Tag Archives: CSA

Beet Ya

Beets are an interesting vegetable, don’t you think? They’re deep red, taste like the earth (but not in a “I just put dirt in my mouth” way), and are actually quite versatile. Admittedly, I didn’t really embrace the beet up until recently. Thanks to the CSA program I’ve belonged to for the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to try both regular (red) and golden beets multiple times, and I’ve used them in a lot of different ways. Some of my favorites have been these beet burgers, as well as simply roasting them with some potatoes. I also gravitate towards beet salads when I’m dining out, but that’s mostly because they seem to always top the salad with goat cheese (one of my favorites).

So when I got beets as part of my very last CSA box of the season, I wanted to do something a little different with them. After looking around my refrigerator and pantry, I decided on beet quesadillas! It sounds weird, but it works. The combination of the earthy beets sautéed in spices, their chard-like leafy greens, and some melty cheese all folded into a tortilla was a perfect weeknight dinner. I would definitely recommend giving these a try. But be forewarned, you may experience some panic moments in the bathroom the next day!

Beet Quesadilla | FoodosaurusRex.com

Beet Quesadillas
– makes 6 quesadillas – 

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp oil
Bunch of beets (mine was 3 large beets) and their greens
1 medium onion
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp water
1.5 cups shredded cheese
6 burrito sized tortillas

Directions:
1. Remove the beet greens, wash  and roughly chop them; put them aside. Peel and chop the beets into small cubes. Dice the onion. 
2. In a medium pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the chopped onions and sauté for 5 minutes until they start to become translucent. Add the cubed beets and continue to sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the spices and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the beets are soft.
3. Slowly add the chopped beet greens, being sure to stir them around to make sure they are coated in the oil remaining in the pan. As you’re doing this, add the 2 Tbsp of water to help deglaze the pan. Sauté until the beet greens are wilted. 
4. Put the sautéd mix aside, and wipe the pan clean. 
5. Spray the pan with cooking spray, and re-heat over medium heat. 
6. Sprinkle a quarter cup of shredded cheese onto one side of the tortilla. Top with 2-4 tablespoons of the beet mixture. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the cheese and beet mixture. 
7. Cook the tortilla for about 1-2 minutes, flip, and cook the other side for the same amount of time.*
8. Repeat with the remaining ingredients

*NOTE: In order to make sure my quesadillas stayed warm after I cooked them on the stovetop, I put them into the oven to stay warm (300 degrees for just a few minutes). This will of course depend on the number of quesadillas you are making, and how long the whole process will take. 

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Summer Simple

Does anyone remember the acronym/mnemonic device KISS (keep it simple stupid) from elementary school? Well, that was the first thing I thought of when I decided to make zucchini “pasta” and basil pesto for dinner on Monday night.

I signed up for the “Fresh Box” from Alan’s Orchard again this year, and I can’t say how much I love getting a fresh box of produce each week. It’s such a fun surprise to show up on Saturday morning not knowing exactly what I’ll be getting for the week (they send out a newsletter that day, but I enjoy the element of surprise). Once I have the box I’m able to plan my meals for the week around the fruits and vegetables, and having farm fresh produce over less than impressive grocery store produce is a real treat.

When I saw that we’d be getting basil this week, I immediately thought of making a simple basil pesto and having it with spaghetti. Then I saw we also got zucchini, and decided to give zucchini pasta a try. I’m not going to lie, when I first saw vegetables being used in place of pasta I scoffed at the idea… I think mostly because I saw them being pushed simply as a low calorie alterative to pasta, which isn’t how I roll (bring on the calories, people!). But I can say that they are in fact delicious – but this definitely isn’t filling enough to have on its own (so have it as a side dish). And it only took a few minutes to throw together!

So try this… you can thank me later.

Zucchini Pasta with Basil Pesto | Foodosaurusrex.com

Simple Zucchini Pasta with Basil Pesto
– Serves 2 as a side – 

Ingredients for pasta:
1 Tbsp oil
4 medium zucchini
Ingredients for pesto:
1 cup fresh basil
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Peel the zucchini with a vegetable peeler, set aside. 
2. In a blender, combine the basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper and blend until well combined. 
3. In a medium skillet, heat the 1 tbsp of oil and sauté the zucchini until heated through (about 3 minutes). Add the basil pesto and stir to combine, cooking for an additional 2 minutes. 
4. Garnish with red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese if desired. 

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Modifications

On Monday, I stayed home from work like almost everyone in the Northeast due to Sandy. Even though I was working from home, I made sure to make dinner early (I’m talking before noon) just in case the power went out as the storm approached later in the day (the oven is electric). I had Namely Marley’s Lentil Sloppy Joe’s on the menu, and since there were purple turnips in our Fresh Box, I thought I’d roast them as a side dish. I was able to make the sloppy joe’s no problem, so a few hours later I turned on the oven so it could pre-heat for the turnips.

Almost immediately I heard a crackling that sounded like something was burning. To my horror I looked through the oven’s window and saw bright white light… the makings of a fire. I immediately turned off the oven and blew out the flames, and stared in disbelief. Of course I was immediately annoyed that my oven would have the nerve to break during a storm, and wasn’t sure what to make instead. Since I love when my mom makes mashed turnips for Thanksgiving, I figured I’d attempt to put my own spin on them. This version is vegan, but it would be just as good with regular milk!

I can’t have a post about a recipe I made during Sandy without speaking of the storm itself. Thankfully, my townhouse kept power during the entire storm (though it did come and go a few times). It seemed like everyone around me (including my parents) lost power, and are still in the dark. I’m surrounded by the Raritan River, but thankfully am a little higher up. So, while everything around me seems to flood and lose power often, this is the third major storm I’ve weathered here and have made it out okay. Though, being surrounded by such damage means I can’t really get anywhere – but I’m okay with that. I’m keeping everyone in my thoughts and prayers, and sending a big thank you to everyone keeping us safe (police, fire fighters, nurses, doctors, EMT, etc.)!

But back the turnips. If you’re not a coconut fan, you can definitely use some EarthBalance (or if you aren’t vegan, regular butter). The coconut adds some extra flavor notes that I enjoyed, but I know of plenty of people who are not coconut fans, so butter will work just fine!

Vegan Mashed Turnips
– makes 3 cups –

Ingredients:
3 turnips, cubed
2 tsp coconut oil
1-2 Tbsp almond/soy/coconut milk (I used unsweetend)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Boil the cubed turnips for about 25 minutes, or until they are tender and can easily be pierced with a fork. 
2. Drain the turnips and return them to the pot. Add in the coconut oil, milk of choice, and spices. Using a manual masher (I have a great double masher from Crate & Barrel) or hand mixer on low, mix everything together to your preferred consistency  (I like to leave a little chunk). 

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Southwestern Shepherd’s Pie

When my husband saw that I had “Shepherd’s Pie” on our dinner calendar for the week, he asked me what it was. After I gave him a general description, he immediately replied with, “and WHY haven’t you made this before?!” Of course, I didn’t have a good response, but promised that the dinner would be good… with my fingers crossed behind my back.

Yes, you read that correctly – I have a “dinner calendar.” I use Google Calendars; I have a bunch of my own personal calendars, as well as a few that are shared. Included in the list of shared is a dinner calendar, which allows me to plan out what we’re going to eat for the week based on our schedules, prepare a grocery list, and have a reference so I know what’s coming during the week. In our old apartment, we had a cute little whiteboard that I used to write it down on like a menu, but when we moved two years ago, I never hung it back up – so I switched over to Google instead. It may seem a little over the top, but it works for me. I’m a huge planner and I enjoy seeing everything scheduled and written out, even if I shuffle things around all the time.

While a typical Shepherd’s pie is made with meat, I left it out in my version (though I’m sure some ground beef, chicken, or turkey would go well here). I also decided to put a Southwestern twist on it since I’m obsessed with the flavors. The reason why I even thought of making this was due to the string beans we got in our CSA box. At first I figured I could just serve them as a side, but I wanted to do more with them. After trying to think of dishes they were included in and trying really hard not to just make a giant batch of green bean casserole for dinner, I settled on the Shepherd’s pie. So yes, this “Southwestern” version has green beans in it. I wasn’t sure if it would work for or against me with everything else (corn, black beans, salsa, etc.), but I’m happy to report everything played nice in the casserole dish.

The beauty of a Shepherd’s pie is that you can really throw in it whatever you have on hand, top it with mashed potatoes, and call it a day. Since I used instant mashed potatoes, everything came together in a matter of about 20-30 minutes. This was definitely a winner in my book, and I hope you think so too!

Southwestern Shepherd’s Pie
– Serves 4 –

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp oil
1 large onion, diced
2 jalapeños, diced (more or less depending on your heat preference)
1 1/2 cups corn (from about 2 ears)
1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 large tomatoes, diced
1-2 cups green beans/string beans (I used 2, and it was A LOT, so feel free to use less)
2 1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp Adobo
1/2 cup chunky salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 package of instant masshed potatoes (or about 2 cups)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once heated, add diced onion and jalapeño, and sauté for about 5-10 minutes, until onions begin to become translucent. Add the spices and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
3. Once everything is well combined, add the corn, black beans, tomatoes, green beans, and salsa. Lower your heat to medium, and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring every so often.
4. Meanwhile, prepare your instant mashed potatoes per the package directions (i.e. add 2 cups of water to the flakes, microwave for 2-3 minutes). Once the potatoes are done, add 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese. Set aside.
5. Add the mixture to a greased 8×8 baking dish. Top with the other 1/4 cup of shredded cheese, then spoon the mashed potatoes on top of that. 
6. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until mashed potatoes are set. 
 

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Filed under Home Cooking, Recipe, Spanish Food, Vegetarian/Vegan

Weeds for Dinner

“Dandelions are weeds.” I’m sure that’s something everyone has heard – I remember being told that dandelions were not the cute little flowers I thought they were, but rather are pesky weeds that needed to be removed. I still continued to pick the dandelions whenever I saw them, pretending they were in fact flowers (like the everyman’s flower) even though I couldn’t shake the thought that they were just a simple garden weed. Since weeds grow rapidly and usually in places you don’t want them to (like my entire front patio), they have a bad reputation. Little did I know, though, some weeds are not only delicious, but also super charged with nutrients!

I’m not saying you should go into your backyard, pick out all your weeds, and then sauté them for dinner. I am, however, saying that dandelion greens are more than just the weeds attached to that pesky little flower – they’re a delicious herb that can be used in a ton of recipes.

This weeks’ CSA box came with a bunch of dandelion greens, and while I was intimidated, I knew right away what I’d do with them. After sampling a leaf to see how it tasted raw, it was clear sautéing was the obvious way to go. They taste like bitter spinach, but if you sauté it enough and add in some garlic and other spices, you’re golden. I mixed it with chickpeas and threw it over pasta, giving me a quick and easy meal! Since I’m still trying to be mostly gluten-free (the complete elimination did nothing, so I’m just trying to limit typical trigger foods – gluten and dairy), I used corn pasta with this recipe. Of course, you can use regular pasta (any shape will do), or another grain like quinoa.

Dandelion and Chickpea Sauté
– Serves 2 –

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 bunch of dandelion greens, stems removed and roughly chopped (you’ll get about 4 cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes (you can use more or less depending on your heat preference) 
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried basil
Parmesan or Nutritional Yeast for a little cheesy taste, if you’d like 

Directions:
1. In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
2. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the dandelion greens and sauté until wilted, about 5 minutes.
3. Add in the chickpeas, red pepper flakes, basil, and oregano; lower the heat and sauté for an additional 5 minutes. 
5. Serve over pasta or your favorite grain – and feel free to add some shredded or grated cheese, or nutritional yeast! 

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Egg Love

Getting a CSA box each week has been such a treat – we pick up on Fridays, so I always look forward to the Thursday “newsletter” with a list of the week’s fruits and vegetables, as well as recipe ideas and tips for storing everything. Once I get that e-mail, it’s all about planning the week’s meals around the fruits and veggies. Most of the time I don’t have trouble coming up with uses for everything, but once in a while I’m stumped. Included in this week’s box (among other things) were some leeks and arugula that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with.

I’ve only cooked with leeks once before (though I absolutely love them), and have only had arugula in salads, on sandwiches, and in a few pasta dishes. Originally my thoughts were to keep the two vegetables separate – I didn’t want to blow through my CSA box before we were halfway through the workweek. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized the two would pair well together alongside eggs.

Truthfully, I’m not usually a big egg fan. Blasphemy, perhaps, but I never really enjoyed them the way that so many people do (I’m talking in the “OMG I eat eggs every single day!” kind of way). Growing up I would have hard boiled eggs, but that was typically as far as my eggventures went (see what I did there?). Omelets were manageable for me too, as long as they were stuffed with veggies and had an equal ratio of cheese to egg. Eventually in college I realized eggs and omelets were my best option for breakfast, and I learned to love them with ketchup (again, a lot of people think it’s totally gross, and I did as well way before I would willingly eat eggs). Until recently, I would typically chose something without eggs over something with eggs, but they’re growing on me. Maybe it’s because I finally know how to cook them and use them with other flavors I enjoy, or my taste buds are changing, but I’ll take it either way.

Since I’m currently on the egg train, I’m going to ride it for as long as I can. Enter the leek and arugula frittata! The frittata is one of the easiest dishes out there, and it’s so incredibly versatile I don’t know why I only recently started making them (oh, right, because I’m not a big egg fan…). You really can throw almost anything into a cast iron skillet, saute it, top it with eggs, cook it a bit, and call it a day. Seriously – I basically just wrote out the recipe. Obviously for this frittata I used leeks and arugula, but a few weeks ago I made an equally awesome Swiss chard version. And the very first frittata I made had soy chorizo and kale in it (and it was called a strata, but whatever), and I dream about it, it was that good. Basically what I’m saying is get creative with your frittata – or give mine a try!

Leek and Arugula Frittata
– Serves 4 –

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp butter
8 eggs
2 leeks, diced (white parts only)
1 cup arugula, stems removed and diced
1 tomato, diced
1/4 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, a mix – whatever your heart desires)
1/4 cup crumbled feta (I used garlic and herb, but plain works too)
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
1. In a cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add leeks and sauté for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a medium bowl and dd in the cheese. Set aside.
3. Add in the arugula and tomato, and sauté for an additional 2 minutes until the arugula is wilted.
4. Meanwhile, preheat broiler on high.
5. Pour in the egg and cheese mixture and stir to make sure everything is combined. Using a spatula, lift the eggs on the edge of the skillet, tilting the pan to allow the egg mixture to drip to the edges. Continue doing this as it cooks for 10 minutes.
6.  Take the skillet and place it in the oven with the broiler on high, and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

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Peachy Keen

There’s no other way to say it: I made peach salsa on Sunday and it was awesome. Using ingredients from my fresh box, I threw together a flavorful peach salsa that took a total of 10 minutes to prepare. The great thing about salsas like this, is that the longer they sit around, the better they taste.

While this is the case for salsa, the same principle cannot be said for my running. On Sunday I had 12 miles scheduled. The temperature was deceptively cool; I figured it would be easy to get through and I’d be ready to really up my mileage this week. I’ve been struggling trying to slow myself down on my long runs, so my goal was to stay within the 9 minute mile pace – I didn’t care if it was 9:01 or 9:59, I just wanted to be slower than 8, but faster than 10. Because it rained so much the day before, the tow path alongside the Raritan River was super muggy which made the run much harder than it seemed at the time. By the time I finished 7 miles and was back in the park, I was dripping with sweat and had to stop at a water fountain (I mean soaked to the point where the brim of my hat was dripping!). The next three miles were not so fun.

I got through another 3.5 miles, but called it quits at 10.5. I knew I needed to get my 12 for the day, so 5 hours later after preparing the oh-so-delicious salsa, I set back out for another light jog. It was misting and looked like it could downpour at any moment, but I managed to get through 2.5 miles with an 8:05 average to round myself out to 13 miles for the day. It’s nice to know that only a few hours after a run I struggled through, I was able to not only run again, but do it in a somewhat fast manner. And, I saw two rainbows on the run!

But back to the salsa. I decided to use the salsa as a topping for some simple grilled salmon. I didn’t season the salmon at all – I threw it on the grill for about 10 minutes on medium-high heat (about 5 minutes on each side) and the salsa provided the rest of the flavor. Paired with some grilled corn on the cob and mashed potatoes, this meal was a serious winner.

The recipe is really easy and straight forward, and it’ll last you a few days. As long as it’s stored in an air-tight container, you can keep it refrigerated for about a week… if it lasts you that long!

Spicy Peach Salsa
Makes about 3-4 cups – 

Ingredients:
3 large tomatoes
2 large peaches
1 jalapeño (deseed it if you don’t want it spicy)
1/2 medium white onion
1/4 cup cilantro
Juice from one lemon

Directions:
1. Dice tomatoes, peaches, jalapeño, onion, and cilantro and combine in a medium sized bowl. 
2. Squeeze the lemon juice and mix to combine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes – but the longer, the better!  

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Filed under Recipe, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan

My First CSA

A few months ago at a street festival in my hometown, one of the speciality fresh food stores, Alan’s Orchard, had a booth that I stopped by. In addition to picking up a loaf of pumpkin chocolate chip bread (which was SO good), I signed up to be on their CSA waiting list. I know a lot of other bloggers participate in CSAs that are local to them, but I found they were less common in suburban New Jersey than I liked. So even though I was only signing up for the waiting list, I crossed my fingers that someone would drop out, but didn’t get my hopes up.

Fast forward to July, and I got a call from the store that they had room for me in their “Fresh Box” program! Since we were on vacation when they called, I was afraid by the time I got back to them they would have already moved onto the next person. Thankfully they hadn’t, and I was able to pick up my very first box this past Friday. The program runs from May to December and provides you with a (giant) box of seasonal fruits and vegetables weekly (you can choose from three pick up days), and the box comes with a ton of information (instructions for the best storage, recipes, and general information on the fruits and veggies) all for $25! They also offer add-ins that you can purchase like farm fresh eggs, cheese, and other goodies. The store also partners with a local wine shop in town to offer weekly wine and beer selections, too! Needless to say this program is a veggie lovers dream.

This week’s haul included giant jalapeños, an eggplant, four ears of corn, tomatoes, two kinds of peaches, rainbow chard, pickle cucumbers, green cabbage, onions, and tomatillos. I typically meal plan mid-week and shop on Sunday or Monday for the week, but obviously now that I’ll be picking up these goodies every Friday, that has to change. I’ve got grand plans for it all, though. Sunday was grilled salmon with peach salsa, Monday was spicy mushroom and eggplant tacos with salsa verde, Tuesday was a rainbow chard frittata, and tonight is falafel in a cabbage wrap! You can bet I’ll be sharing the recipes soon. I can’t wait to see what each week brings!

Do you have a CSA program near you? Do you participate? 

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This Week in Yum

Seriously, how is July almost over already? I guess being away for two weeks at the beginning of the month helped make it fly by. I was finally able to get back into the swing of things this week, and despite a medical emergency close call, I made some delicious stuff in the kitchen!

First up was a vegetarian loaf – full of beans and flavor. I wasn’t sure if it would hold together enough to resemble meatloaf, but it did. I don’t even remember how I found this recipe, but I’m so glad I did. It made enough for both dinner and lunch the next day, and I had most of the ingredients already on hand. I definitely want to make this again, and I think it could be just as delicious if I play around with the spices.

On Tuesday I decided to make brussels sprouts, because they’re one of my favorite vegetables. Someone doesn’t like them, so I actually have never made them myself; I’ve only ever had them at my parent’s house. So after checking with my mom to see how she usually makes them, I got to work in the kitchen. It was so easy – I threw about 3 Tbsp of olive oil into a pan, chopped up three cloves of garlic, and tossed the brussels (I cut them in half) into the pan with some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. I sautéed them over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, and I had myself a delicious side dish. Since I wound up eating the entire carton myself, they actually wound up being my main dish! So easy. So delicious. I just don’t understand why people don’t like brussels sprouts!

Wednesday was quick & easy pizza after the Downtown Westfield 5k that I didn’t get to run (see above with the “medical close call”), but the hubs did. So even though I didn’t run, I got to enjoy the pizza!

Thursday’s dinner came from a recipe I found on Pinterest (of course) for Linguine with Smoky Avocado Sauce. I had grilled avocado for the first time a few months ago and loved it, and I’ve used avocado as a “cream sauce” before and loved it, so when I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. The recipe itself doesn’t say how much pasta to use, so I wound up using enough for three servings, by just grabbing some handfuls of spaghetti. I really need to get myself one of those pasta measuring contraptions, because I never know how much I’m using when it comes to spaghetti.

In addition to dinner, there’s been no lack of dessert. Most nights of the week end with a little ice cream. Somehow, our cats know exactly when it’s ice cream time – no matter where they are in the house, they come bounding into the kitchen, and subsequently perch themselves on either arm of our couch, stalking our every bite. It may seem like a bit of an exaggeration, but I captured the below picture one night while we were trying to enjoy our dessert. It happens every single time. They’re lucky they are so darn cute.


I have next week’s meals all planned out already, but I’m thinking they may change. I’m picking up our very first CSA box today (and I’m so excited!!), so I’ll need to be sure to incorporate the goodies into our meals for the week. I can’t wait to see what we get!

Did you have anything noteworthy this week? 
Do you have pets that stalk your every move when you eat? 

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Filed under Food Review, Vegetarian/Vegan