Sunday, September 27, 2015

White Cushaw Squash

Cushaw squash in the field (my foot for reference)
You may not know this about me- I am a master gardener intern. I have wanted to do this for years but there was always a reason that I couldn't. My daughter is now in high school, so I decided to start classes. I justify it by saying that I am modeling life long learning for our daughter. But the reality is I love gardening and I wanted to learn more. I like the people I meet gardening and I love my presentation topic-- hedgerows (I know it is a strange thing to be fascinated by but I am).  So, I finally get to learn all kinds of things about plants and I get to play, I mean volunteer, in a garden that donates its produce to Saint Charles Food Pantry and Synergy Services (the garden is Atkins Johnson in Gladstone). It is a beautiful garden. It is all heirloom (pre1900- and has the neatest variety of okra (fife creek cowhorn okra). Fife Creek Cowhorn Okra is available from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds --- why is it so great? Because it stays tender even after it is 7 to 8 inches long.... so if you are like me and love okra but forget to pick your okra daily --this is the okra for you. Okra is also one of the prettiest growing veggies. Yes, I will be growing this okra next year.

The other amazing crop is white cushaw squash. It is a real thing and it is amazing. It tastes a 1000 times better than pumpkin. White cushaw is an heirloom squash from the south (1891). It is easy to grow (so I've been told), resistant to squash bugs, and yields a lot of giant squash.  When I say giant- I mean giant-- they weigh 30-40 pounds.

I ended up with a squash (be still my heart) and here is what I did:

I chopped up the neck of the squash, peeled it, diced it, and froze it in vacuum bags for the winter. It made a ton. I will use it in soups, pies, and casseroles this winter.
Bags of diced squash
I chopped the body of the squash in half,

The inside of the squash
dug out the seeds and roasted the squash halves for one hour in a 350 degree oven.

Roasting squash

I let it cool, pureed, drained, and froze it in vacuum bags.

Draining the squash- it has the consistency of baby food
I did take two cups of the pureed squash and made a custard like pie.

I roasted the seeds for about 25 minutes in 325 degree oven. Yum! My only complaint is I would have liked more seeds....

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

It is a little messy but it is so good
We are still on our healthy eating "lifestyle" changing guidelines.  I really enjoy our new eating habits- more fish, fruits, and veggies and less meat, pastas, and desserts. I miss pasta the most although I have replaced white flour pasta with whole grain pasta (angel hair), quiona, and brown rice.  I really enjoy dessert once a week because it gives me something to look forward to- although I allow myself a piece of high quality dark chocolate once a day. We eat a lot of fresh tuna and salmon- it is a good thing we love fish and I try to make meatless meals.  One of my favorites is grilled portobello mushrooms.  So easy and so good. I wasn't planning on blogging this one but it was so good, my family requested that it be blogged. So the amounts are approximate and there are no in process pictures.
I would normally use basil in these mushroom but I had some fresh spinach and used that instead. If you are one of those rare people that don't like goat cheese, then substitute mozzarella (or another cheese) for the goat cheese. I would have loved to add panko or bread crumbs to this mixture but I am trying to cut back (and I didn't miss them).

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

3 Large Portobello Mushrooms
Olive Oil
Couple of Tomatoes, Diced
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1/2 Half Red Pepper, Diced
1/4 Sweet Onion, Diced
4 Ounces (114 grams) Goat Cheese
8 Ounces (228 grams) Spinach, Chopped
3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper, To Taste

Prepare your grill. (light your charcoal if you are using a charcoal grill). Sauté the onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil. Once the onion and garlic are lightly caramelized, remove from heat and cool. Meanwhile, scoop out the black fins of the portobello and lightly coat the inside and outside of the mushrooms with olive oil.  Combine the tomatoes, red pepper, goat cheese, spinach, vinegar, onion and garlic in a bowl.
On the grill
Divide the mixture between the mushrooms and place the mushrooms on the grill. Grill for approximately 7-10 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender and the filling is heated through.
Finished! These were eaten so quickly I was lucky I got a picture.
The bottom line will I make this again? Yes, my family is already requesting it. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Best Tacos

The perfect taco
Under the food guidelines I am trying to follow, I am only supposed to have red meat once a week.  I am pretty close to meeting that goal. So, for my red meat meal you would think I would always want a nice juicy steak. Not necessarily.  I am totally addicted to tacos and not just any tacos- I either want tacos from La Tienda (but if I am at La Tienda I am usually going to want the shrimp cilantro pesto quesadillas) so the only other taco I want is this recipe. Yes, it is that good.  It takes awhile but that gives me time to run a couple of miles before dinner. A pro tip-- use cabbage in your tacos instead of lettuce- it tastes better and doesn't wilt.

1 Pound (.45 kg) of Hamburger (You can make two pounds with the same amount of spices)
1 Tbsp of Paprika
1-2 Tbsps of Chili Powder
1/2 Tsp of Garlic Powder
1 Tsp of Cumin
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1/2 of a Bell, Red, Yellow, or Orange Pepper, Diced
1/2 Onion, Diced
It looks like too much spice but it is not trust me
Mix together the meat and spices and place in a medium sauce pan.

Add enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for an hour (yes an hour- this is when I go for my run so I can eat several tacos guilt free).
Adding the pepper and onion- I am on a red pepper kick
Add onion and pepper to the meat mixture and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.  Most of the liquid cooks off so I have never had to drain the meat.
Finished- still some liquid but not too much
Either use the meat right away in your tacos or refrigerate and use later. I like soft shells, cabbage, avocado, onion, tomato, cilantro, and cheese for my tacos.

The bottom line: will I make this again? Yes, it is so good.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Greek 7 Layer Dip

Not only is it delicious; it is also pretty
We love the Mexican seven layer dip, and my family often requests it. I wanted something a little different so I came up with a Greek twist on a favorite family dish. And you know what?  This is a great dip.  It is so easy to make.  I serve it with pita chips (and when I run out we switch to chips). You can make the hummus or if you are running short on time (I often am) pick up some pre-made hummus.

Greek 7 Layer Dip

10 oz Hummus

1/2 Cup (55 grams) Cucumber, Peeled, Seeded and Diced
1 Cups (225 grams) Plain Greek Yogurt
2 Cloves of Garlic, Sliced
2 Tsp White Wine Vinegar
A Couple Sprigs of Fresh Dill
A Couple Sprigs of Fresh Mint

1 Pint of Cherry Tomatoes, Diced
1 Cup (110 grams) Cucumber, Diced
1/3 Cup (80 grams) Kalamata Olives, Sliced
6 oz (170 grams) Feta Cheese, Crumbled
Several Sprigs of Parsley, Finely Chopped

Spread hummus evenly on a 9 inch pie plate.  Mix the tzatziki ingredients together in a food processor and spread on top of the hummus.

Making the tzatziki
Top with the tomatoes, cucumber, feta, olives, and parsley.

Adding the layers
Cover and chill until ready to serve. Yes, it is that easy.

The bottom line: Will I make this again? Yep- it is a keeper.

Friday, July 3, 2015

What Do I Do with this Kohlrabi Slaw

Kohlrabi Slaw
We have been a part of different CSAs for over a decade (or maybe two). I have found it a fun challenge to use all of the different veggies and fruits in season. I have two exceptions: kohlrabi and bok choy. I mean really? Yuk!
I am a changed woman. Well, I still hate bok choy. I used to hate kohlrabi.  Truly, I did not like it at all. I would offer it to strangers, swap it, or just not take it.  One Saturday, I was at a farmer's market.  Yes, I get weekly supply of veggies from my CSA and I still go to farmer markets and I grow my own (I know I have a problem), the farmer asked if I had tried it in slaw. I decided to try it and oh wow.... it is good. So good I had to share. You can use your favorite slaw dressing or the one below. You can add carrots or onions or brussel sprouts if you want--- I wouldn't add bok choy (nasty stuff).

Kohlrabi (on the left) is no longer intimidating

Apple Kohlrabi Slaw

2 Apples, Grated
2 Kohlrabi, Grated
1/2 Cabbage, Grated
1 Clove of Garlic, Mashed
2 Tablespoons of Rice Wine Vinegar
2-3 Teaspoons Creole Mustard (or your favorite)
5-6 Tablespoons of Oil
Salt and Pepper, To Taste
A food processor makes the prep work easy.
Mix together the apple, kohlrabi and cabbage.
I mix the dressing ingredients in a glass with a bit of plastic wrap over the top.
In a separate bowl (or glass) combine the garlic, vinegar, mustard, oil, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and chill. Enjoy.

The bottom line- will I make this again.  Yes, every time I get kohlrabi from my CSA.  Now if I could figure out what to do with the bok choy......

Monday, March 30, 2015

Ahi Tuna Salad

Amazingly beautiful ahi tuna
Today we found beautiful ahi tuna right off the boat.  It was amazing.  It was a beautiful dark red-- no dye added and never frozen. Once I diced it, it looked like a bowl full of watermelon. So- why would we cook this beautiful fish? We didn't. We added some avocado, tomato, soy sauce, garlic, onion, lime, and pepper and served it over a bed of greens. The only things I would have added (maybe) were a bit of crushed red pepper and rice wine vinegar.  The only thing I regret is not buying more ahi.

Ahi Tuna Salad

1 lbs (.45kg) Fresh Ahi Tuna, Cubed
2 Medium Tomatoes, Diced
2 Tbsp of Soy Sauce
4 oz. (113g) of Buffalo Mozzarella, Diced
1/4 Sweet Onion, Diced
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
Juice and Zest of 1/2 Lime
1 Avocado, Diced
Pepper, To Taste
Fresh Greens

Throw everything  except the greens in a bowl and combine.
Combining all the ingredients 
Serve over a bed of greens.   It is amazing.
The finished dish
The bottom line: will I make this again?  Yes, this is my favorite ahi dish ever.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Veggie Tabbouleh with Broccoli
It is the start of the New Year and time for reflection.  It is also time to make a bunch of New Years resolutions that you know you are not going to keep.  This year I decided to do something different.  I wrote my 2015 bucket list on post-it notes and stuck them to the wall in my laundry room. They are a combination of fun (ride in a bi-plane), education (get through a french language book that is sitting on my coffee table) and health (run a 10K). As I achieve these "goals" I have a vase to place them in so at the end of this year I can see what I have achieved. My family is supposed to be joining me in the fun. The wall awaits their post-it notes. 
Also as part of the my New Year reflection, I took a good hard look at what I am eating.  I'd give myself a b minus. (In the summer when we are part of a CSA I'd have an a minus.) I have cut out fast food and I try to eat healthy. But I really don't eat as many fruits and veggies as I should and I love desserts.  When I am bored, I make desserts because I love to bake and create wonderful food.  And what is more wonderful than dessert? Also I have a soft spot for chicken tenders. The cafeteria where I work always has great chicken tenders and curly fries. Sigh.....
So I did some research and Alton Brown's plan for a healthy life style (not a diet) struck a cord. I like his list of foods to eat every day. I love the one dessert a week rule .  I can plan all week for the masterpiece that I will create and then eat. It will be the same with pasta- I can already imagine making homemade pasta once a week. Because if I only get pasta once a week, it is not going to be dried pasta from a  box. I like pretty much everything on the list (except sweet potatoes, sardines or mackerel). I am giddy about the avocado. Oh how I love avocado. 
I gave up soda. That was actually quite easy because I replaced it with iced tea. Beer is not going to be eliminated. My husband and I brew beer. I love the taste of beer. I love brewing beer.  We are currently brewing a Scottish ale and a chocolate Jim Beam imperial stout. If craft beer was not available, I could easily give up beer. But the craft beer revolution is going on and the beers, meads, ciders, and ginger beers and root beers that are available are amazing. Last night, I had a hard cider mead from Leaky Roof Meadery called KCC&S Cyser and it was amazing. My current favorites are 4 Hands chocolate milk stout and Odell's Lugene chocolate milk stout. 
Alton Brown's list of foods to eat and my love of Mediterranean food was the inspiration for a really healthy tabbouleh.  I make a huge amount and eat it all week.  If I want a snack instead of chips or a sugary treat, I eat tabbouleh with some whole grain pita. I also like it with quinoa and couscous.  Feta cheese is also lovely with this. If you are a mint fan, add some mint with the parsley. Adjust the lemon to your taste. 


1 Head of Cauliflower or Broccoli
1 Large Bunch of Parsley
2 Carrots
1/2-1 Cucumber, Peeled
1 Red, Green, Orange or Yellow Pepper (or a combination of the mini-peppers)
1/2 Red Onion
Several Roma Tomatoes or 1 Large Tomato
Zest of One Lemon
Juice of One to Two Lemons
Approximately 1/4 Cup  (60 ml) of Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to Taste


In a food processor, process the parsley so that it is finely chopped and dump parsley into a large bowl. Place cauliflower or broccoli (with the stems or hard core removed) in the food processor and pulse so it is in fine pieces but not mush. Place this in the bowl with the parsley. Do the same with the carrot, onion, and pepper(s).  Hand chop the cucumber (removing the seeds) and the tomato (removing the seeds). These should be finely diced. I used all of my tomato for shrimp ceviche so the tabbouleh with the broccoli does not have tomato.    
Chopping the veggies
In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, oil, salt and pepper.  Pour this mixture over the veggie and stir. Taste and adjust. You may want to add more salt or pepper or lemon juice. You may also want to add a bit of cumin or cayenne. 

That is it. 
Veggie Tabbouleh with Cauliflower
The bottom line: will I make this again?  Yes, I love it.