Monthly Archives: June 2013

Salmon and Fennel in Parchment – CSA Week 3

For a quick and healthy weeknight dinner, wild caught salmon is an excellent choice. Using this recipe from Simply Recipes for inspiration, I added some fresh dill and substituted olive oil for the butter. It was done in 30 minutes and tasted delish served over rice!

On a large piece of parchment paper, I placed the sliced fennel down first, followed by the salmon (skin side down). I seasoned the fish liberally with kosher salt and black pepper and then drizzled the whole thing with olive oil. I topped it off with lemon slices and then put a big bunch of fennel fronds on top.
I wrapped up the whole package in parchment and sealed the edges to keep in the steam before throwing it in the oven on a cookie sheet.
Before serving, I removed the fennel fronds – they were only there to infuse flavor into the fish – and sprinkled liberally with fresh chopped dill.
This might be my favorite way to cook fennel yet! It was sweet and tender and lemony all at once. The perfect accompaniment to salmon. Yum!

CSA Week Three

I’m excited to have fresh dill this week! I love its bright flavor sprinkled over all kinds of things. We also got beets, which I must confess, are not my favorite. I’ve had to come up with some creative ways to use them since they show up in the share pretty consistently throughout the season. I will definitely be posting some of my ideas.
CSA Week Three
Boston lettuce
salad turnips
broccoli rabe
tat soi
shelling peas
snow peas
Napa cabbage

CSA Recipes Week 2 Part 2

Fennel and Grapefruit Salad
We in the Northeast are on day three of a heat wave. When it’s super-hot outside, I crave fresh, light meals. This was the perfect cooling lunch for a sweltering day!

makes one portion

1 pink grapefruit, sections removed
1 small bulb fennel, sliced very thin
Himalayan pink salt
black pepper

  1. arrange the grapefruit sections and fennel on a plate
  2. season very lightly with just a pinch of Himalayan pink salt and black pepper

Vegetable Potstickers (vegan)
This was my first time using store-bought wonton wraps. I’m a big fan! These were easy to put together and came out crispy, crunchy and delicious! You can serve these on their own with a little dipping sauce (I used Trader Joe’s sweet chili sauce), and/or place them on top of Napa cabbage slaw (recipe below).

recipe makes about 20 potstickers

canola oil
4 salad turnips, peeled & diced
4 heads baby bok choy, chopped
3-4 C tat soi, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
low sodium soy sauce, to taste
1/4 C cooked white rice
1 pkg Nasoya wonton wraps

Napa cabbage slaw
4 C thinly sliced Napa cabbage
1-2 radishes, shredded on a cheese grater
2-3 scallions, diced
2-3 tsp Trader Joe’s Soyaki (or mix a little brown sugar with soy sauce)
sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds

  1. in a little canola oil, over medium-high heat, saute the diced turnips and baby bok choy for about 5 minutes
  2. add the tat soi and garlic and saute a few more minutes, lowering the heat if necessary
  3. add a dash of soy sauce and cover the pan
  4. once the tat soi has wilted, remove the lid and add the rice, cooking uncovered until all excess liquid has evaporated
  5. fill the wonton wraps according to package directions
  6. pan fry the pot stickers in about 1/2 inch of canola oil until blistered and golden brown on all sides (use tongs to flip halfway through)
  7. remove and drain on a paper towel

“Sour Cream” and Chive Kale Chips (vegan)

Adapted from Chef Douglas MicNish’s Sour Cream and Onion Kale Chips. These came out very crispy but the chive flavor was kind of subtle. Next time I might try blending the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, sea salt, garlic powder, chives and olive oil in a food processor to ensure that the chive flavor will really stick to the kale.

1 lb. kale (one big bunch)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 T nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 C chopped chives
scant drizzle of olive oil

  1. preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. wash the kale and dry it very thoroughly (this is important for crispy chips)
  3. strip the kale leaves from the stalks and tear them up into bite-sized pieces
  4. in a large bowl, mix the kale with all other ingredients and massage the kale leaves – the mixture should feel sticky but not wet
  5. spread the kale out over baking sheets (use light colored pans so the chips don’t burn), making sure there’s no overlapping
  6. bake for 5-10 minutes, checking frequently until the chips are very dry and crisp *watch carefully – the chips will turn from the perfect crisp to scorched in seconds!

CSA Week 2 Recipes Part 1

Kale Piccata Over Whole Wheat Pasta
makes 2 servings

2 servings of cooked whole wheat spaghetti
2 T olive oil
4 C Russian red kale
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 C vegetable broth
lemon juice to taste (I used a whole lemon – very tart!)
2 T capers
2 T chopped fresh oregano
2 T chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

  1. in a large skillet, warm one T of olive oil over medium heat and add the Russian red kale
  2. cover the skillet and allow the kale to wilt
  3. add the garlic and cook another minute, stirring to keep the garlic from burning
  4. add the broth and lemon juice and cook until most of the liquid cooks off
  5. add the capers, herbs and crushed red pepper flakes, if using
  6. drizzle the remaining T of olive oil and season with salt and pepper before serving
Strawberry Mint Cooler
makes one drink

You could leave out the rum for a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage…but hey, it was a Friday night…

2-3 strawberries
handful of fresh mint leaves
shot of white rum
coconut water
  1. muddle the fresh mint and strawberries in the bottom of a glass
  2. fill the glass with ice
  3. pour the rum over the ice
  4. fill the glass to to the top with cold coconut water
Napa Cabbage Soup
I used up the Napa cabbage, the baby red bok choy, the scallions and some parsley, chives, and freshly shelled peas in a soup. It turned out OK but not great. I’m going to skip the recipe since it wasn’t my best work. I have used Napa cabbage in soups before and had success. It’s really delicious when sliced thin to resemble noodles – just make sure to pair it with a flavorful broth.

CSA Week Two

It’s still pretty early in our growing season, so we’re getting mostly greens right now. I love my kale, but the really fun part of June is the strawberries! They are so much sweeter and juicier than the store-bought kind.

CSA Week Two
Napa cabbage
shelling peas (yay!)
baby bok choy
red baby bok choy
Russian red kale
salad turnips

CSA Week 1 Recipes Part 2

Just finished up using my farm share from week one with the exception of one bulb of fennel and some braising greens. Luckily they’ll still be fresh next week; one of the best things about a local CSA is how long the produce lasts. Grocery store produce usually has a long trip from wherever it was grown before it even makes it to your shopping cart. Shopping at a local farm means your veggies just came out of the ground and will last longer in the fridge!
All ingredients in bold are from the CSA.

Red Romaine and Arugula Salad with Baby Turnips

3 C arugula, rinsed with cold water
1 head red romaine lettuce, washed and cut up
1/2 large cucumber, peeled and sliced
3-5 baby turnips, peeled and cut into wedges

These young turnips are mild enough to use raw.

Lemon-Oregano Dressing
Use a food processor to blend the following:
1 clove garlic
4 T olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon
agave or honey to taste
handful of fresh oregano leaves
salt and pepper to taste
2 T feta cheese (optional)

Fettuccine with Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and Broccoli Rabe
1 lb whole wheat fettuccine
olive oil
2 lbs cleaned shrimp
4 cloves chopped garlic
1 bunch of broccoli rabe
1/2 C chopped fresh parsley
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

  1. In a large pot of salted water, cook the fettuccine until just firm. Remove the pasta and set it aside. Let the pasta water remain boiling on the stove.
  2. In a large skillet, saute the shrimp in a little bit of olive oil until just cooked. Season with salt and pepper and set aside on a plate. Do not overcook – it only takes a minute or two on each side – use tongs to flip.
  3. While the shrimp is cooking, blanch the broccoli rabe in the pasta water until tender-crisp.
  4. Add the garlic and about half the lemon juice to the skillet that the shrimp just came out of. Allow the garlic to cook for a minute or two, reducing the heat if necessary.
  5. Using a skimmer or slotted spoon, fish the broccoli rabe out of the boiling water and add it to the skillet.
  6. Dump the pasta and the shrimp into the skillet along with a spoonful of pasta water, the rest of the lemon juice, and the fresh parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Dump everything into a large pasta bowl and mix well before serving.

Herb Roasted Chicken
This one’s so easy, there’s no recipe required. Just stuff some fresh herbs (I used sage, parsley and oregano) into the cavity of a small chicken and rub the skin with salt, pepper and olive oil before roasting.

CSA Week 1 Recipes Part 1

Cooking with a farm share is super fun because it requires creativity and spontaneity. You never know what awaits you in the share room, so you can’t exactly plan out recipes in advance. Once I pick out my share and get it home, I like to take stock and figure out how to make it work with whatever I already have on hand. This usually results in the kind of cooking where you don’t follow a recipe. You just make it up as you go. Sometimes the result is yummy and other times it’s not so great, but it’s ALWAYS fun! Here’s what I’ve done so far with this week’s share. Items from the CSA are in bold letters.

Kiwi and Mint Infused Water
makes one medium pitcher

3 sprigs fresh mint
1 kiwi, peeled and chopped

  1. strip the leaves off 2 mint sprigs and place on the bottom of a medium sized pitcher
  2. add kiwi
  3. muddle everything together
  4. fill the rest of the pitcher with water
  5. allow to sit for a couple of hours in the refrigerator for a more intense flavor
  6. pour into a glass over ice through a fine mesh strainer
  7. garnish with the remaining mint sprig

Quinoa with Mushrooms, Greens and Chives
makes about 6 servings

1 C dry quinoa
olive oil
1 large package of cremini mushrooms, chopped
3-4 C fresh tat soi
2 C fresh baby spinach
salt and pepper
1 bunch fresh chives, diced
lemon juice (or balsamic vinegar)

  1. cook quinoa according to package directions and set aside
  2. saute cremini mushrooms in a bit of olive oil
  3. add tat soi and baby spinach to the pan (or whatever greens you have on hand)
  4. cover pan and allow greens to wilt
  5. season the greens and mushrooms with salt and pepper
  6. add sauteed greens and mushrooms to the cooked quinoa along with the chives
  7. drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice
  8. salt and pepper to taste

serve warm or at room temp

Spinach Salad with Sugar Snap Peas, Pears and Radish

makes two small, or one large salad
2-3 C fresh baby spinach

1 sliced pear (skin on)
2 grated Easter Egg Radishes (skin on)
a handful of sugar snap peas, sliced on the diagonal
a sprinkling of shelled sunflower seeds
3 chopped scallions

1 T olive oil
1 T honey dijon mustard
a dash of rice wine vinegar
salt and pepper

  1. make a bed of spinach and top it with the pear, grated radishes, sugar snap peas, sunflower seeds and scallions
  2. season with salt and pepper
  3. mix all the dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake until combined before dressing salad


Paper Thin Radishes over Sweet Potato Puree with Sage Coconut Sauce
If you love homemade butternut squash ravioli with sage brown butter sauce, this recipe is for you! All the flavor with none of the guilt. Fresh and light, it is packed with nutrients that you can feel good about.

This recipe makes enough for 2 entree-sized portions or 4-6 small plates for an elegant first course.

1 medium-large sweet potato
4 Easter Egg Radishes in different colors
olive oil
4-5 sprigs of fresh sage
1 T coconut oil
salt and pepper
3 T Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream (if this is not available, you can skim the cream off the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk)

  1. poke holes in the skin of the sweet potato and bake in a 400 degree oven until soft (about 1 hour)
  2. using the thinnest setting on a mandolin, shave the radishes into paper thin rounds
  3. in a very hot pan, fry a few whole sage leaves in coconut oil until crisp and then set on a paper towel
  4. add the rest of the sage, roughly chopped, to the skillet and season with salt and pepper
  5. cook the sage until it gets a little brown and crisp (you may need to reduce heat to avoid burning)
  6. add Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream and reduce heat, cooking until flavors meld
  7. spoon the cooked sweet potato out of the skin and throw into a blender with a splash of coconut milk
  8. puree sweet potato until smooth seasoning with just a pinch of sea salt
  9. put a dollop of sweet potato puree down on the plate
  10. arrange the radish slices on top of the puree
  11. pour the sauce over the top
  12. garnish with fried sage
serve while the potato puree and sauce are still very hot

Russian Red Kale with Marinara and Kalamata Olives

This is a DELICIOUS way to eat your greens. It reminds me of pasta puttanesca, without the heavy pasta.

Since this was a baby Russian Red Kale, I used the whole leaf.  If you are using a mature kale, you’ll need to take out the tough stalks and cut up the leaves into smaller pieces before cooking. All varieties work well in this dish if you make sure to simmer until tender.

This recipe makes one plate

1 T olive oil
4 C Russian Red kale
1 C marinara sauce
1/4 C pitted Kalamata olives
2 T fresh parsley, chopped

  1. in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat
  2. add kale and allow to wilt
  3. pour in marinara
  4. add olives
  5. allow to simmer for about 20 minutes while kale soaks up the flavor of the sauce
  6. serve topped with parsley

For Brad, who is more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy, I used some sugar snap peas in a basic chicken stir fry with veggies.

These beautiful fresh strawberries were eaten exactly as-is. Yum!

$3.48 DIY Cat Bed for Home and Travel – Washable!

As the most important members of our household, Jasmine and Moe get a lot of special treatment. Once a week, Brad prepares poached chicken for their dining pleasure, which Jasmine flat out refuses to eat if he forgets the bay leaves. They sleep in our bed every night; they enjoy a constant barrage of kisses and compliments. These rescued street kitties have really gotten used to a pampered way of life.

The prince and princess would never tolerate being left out of a family activity, so we always bring them along with us on our weekend ski trips up north. This involves a two-hour drive, which they’ve learned to use as a mobile nap time.

Since our little sweeties were logging so many miles, I decided to improve their travel experience by turning their carriers into super-duper, comfy-cozy dens of plushness. I wanted them each to have their own bed that they could take with them anywhere so they would always feel comfortable. Our kitties like to snuggle into blankets so I designed the bed to have a partially attached top blanket. If your cat doesn’t like being covered, you can skip the top blanket and make a straight pillow case.

This bed fits nicely into a carrier for travel, and also functions as a bed that they use full-time in the house! It’s really easy to make and it’s washable, but the best part is that you can make this bed for $3.48! Scroll down for a tutorial.

Do you think they like it?

$3.48 DIY Cat Bed for Home and Travel
Materials needed (makes one bed):

Ikea KRAKRIS 51″x63″ fleece throw $1.99
Ikea GOSA SLAN stomach sleeper pillow $1.49
sewing machine and thread
measuring tape
seam ripper

1.  Use a seam ripper to remove the tag from the blanket

2. Use scissors to cut the tags off the pillow

3. Fold the blanket in half, the long way, and lay out on a flat surface

4. Measure 25 inches from the top of the blanket. Starting at the bottom of the blanket, cut along the fold all the way up to the 25 inch mark, leaving the rest uncut

5. Fold up the top panel of what you just cut, so it is out of the way, leaving the bottom panel exposed. The top panel is going to stay long because it ends up being the “blanket”
6. Measure 10 inches from the top of the cut you just made, on the bottom panel. Cut off the excess, leaving only the 10 inches intact

7. Measure 20 inches across, and cut off the excess all the way down the length of the material, so the whole thing is 20 inches wide. Do not cut down the side with the fold. Cut down the side where the two edges meet.

8. Reverse fold the blanket so it’s inside out with both the cut panels hanging down

9.  Sew across the top where the two thicknesses meet, making a seam all the way across the top
10.  From just below the cut, fold the longer panel back up and IN BETWEEN the other 2 thicknesses of fabric, toward the seam you just sewed. The flap is longer so there will be excess – it won’t match up to the seam you just sewed. Move the excess aside so it doesn’t get caught up in the seam you are about to make.

11.  Starting at the fold, sew a seam along edge of the 3 thicknesses of fabric, perpendicular to the first seam you made, until the two seams meet

12.  DO NOT sew the other side where the blanket is folded

13. Turn the whole thing right-side-in.

14. Insert the pillow and fold the excess 10 inches of  fabric over the end of the pillow, tucking it inside the pillow case

15. Place your kitty on top of the pillow and tuck him in!

Why did the turtle cross the road?

It’s turtle nesting season in Massachusetts. I spotted this snapping turtle hatchling in the road this morning and helped him get to the other side.

Turtles move slowly and are hard to see, so they are especially vulnerable to fast-moving traffic. Any time I see a turtle in the road, I stop to help it cross safely. You can help turtles too! Just follow these simple rules:
1. Only stop to help a turtle cross the road if you can do so without putting yourself or anyone else in danger. Pull your car over in a safe place and be mindful of traffic.
2. ALWAYS move the turtle in the direction it was heading. DO NOT bring the turtle back to side it was coming from. The turtle is heading to the other side for a reason, so don’t try to change its mind!
3. Do not bring a turtle to a “better location”. It knows where it’s heading and it has a reason. All you need to do is get it across the road faster.
4. Never pick up a turtle by its tail as this could dislocate its spine.
5. You can hold most turtles (except for snapping turtles), by the sides of the shell. Just pick the turtle up, bring it across the street to safety, and put it down in the direction it was heading.
6. Snapping turtles move fairly quickly and can cause some serious damage (severed fingers, for example). Keep your hands away from the front of the turtle. Because their necks are so long, a snapper can actually reach your hands if you hold the turtle by the sides of its shell. The best way to move a snapper is to grasp the shell in the back. Watch this demonstration. You can identify a snapper by its long tail with dragon-like points and jagged-edged shell.
7. Turtles have been known to carry Salmonella, so grab some hand sanitizer after you’ve put the turtle down and make sure to wash with soap and water as soon as you get to a sink.