One Recipe, Three Flavors

I was hoping to share my annual birthday planning post for the little guy, but we’ve all come down with what seems to be a summer cold. Wop, wop. So, I figure if I share the plans, that’ll pretty much guarantee that we’ll have to postpone the thing (which may happen, anyway). So, instead, I’m sharing a recipe we used last night that really worked for us. Hopefully we’ll all be felling super great by the weekend and you can hear our theme/plans after the big hurrah next week.
 
We’ve been up to our ears in lettuces thanks to the CSA, so I’ve wanted to try something, ANYTHING besides salad (which I currently have zero appetite for; maybe if I could make a dressing that appeals to my pregnant whims). Since I’m not brave enough to cook the stuff, I decided to try lettuce wraps.

I had doubts if they’d meet the “needs” of all three of our taste buds. The little guy likes salad but not chicken (weird, I know), so it would need a heavier sauce to mask the chicken – enter honey mustard. Mine was going to have an Asian style dressing. Because Dave’s not a fan of those flavors, I decided to treat him to a little buffalo sauce (made all the healthier by the fact that it was just a drizzle and the rest of the ingredients were super healthy).

And, against the usual odds, we all liked it. The most skeptical of all (Dave) loved it and requested it again…soon. When I do make it, I think I’ll do a peanut-based Asian sauce for mine, just for something a little different.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Three Ways
(or as Hadley calls them, “Lettuce Tacos”)
serves 3, but can be adjusted easily
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Romaine lettuce leaves, washed & dried (12+ leaves)
Two carrots, julienned
A few inches of cucumber, julienned
Mushrooms, chopped (I didn’t have any, but would improve it)
Various grape tomatoes, sliced
S&P

* Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Grill on grill pan for 8-10 minutes (until cooked through) and shred/chop. Use dry lettuce leaves as a base and fill with ingredients. Drizzle with sauce of your choice. (Our lettuce was smaller than usual Romaine, so you could cut larger pieces in half to make easier to eat.)


Dressings (enough for one serving of 4 wraps):
Honey Mustard
– Equal parts local honey & yellow mustard
*Mix ingredients together. Bam.

Asian Drizzle
– 4-5 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
– ~ 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
– dash sesame oil
– drizzle honey or sprinkle of brown sugar
– dash red pepper flakes
– splash of water (optional; was too wet this way)
*Mix all ingredients together. To create thicker sauce, cook down in saucepan for 5+ minutes.

Buffalo Sauce– 2-3 Tbsp. butter
– about 3-4 Tbsp. hot sauce
– dash cayenne pepper
– sprinkle of white vinegar
* Microwave butter until melted, then add the rest of ingredients. Mix.


See? Even fit for a toddler. Honey mustard is a savior around these parts.

BTW, everything except the chicken was organic (and that was natural and humanely raised, so whatchya gonna do?). I threw some berries (strawberries & two types of raspberries from the farmers’ market) on the side to round it out; I also grabbed some cottage cheese when I was done just to fill up a little more, but the boys were fine without. Pregnancy will do that to ya.

Now, if anyone has ideas for fennel (I am NOT a fan, but am willing to try new things…gulp), chard, salad turnips, and a ton more lettuce, I’m up for suggestions.

Just know that I’ve got some pickiness going on in the house. 😉

CSA – Week #3

I swear to all that is holy, I don’t plan on doing a weekly recap of our CSA box.

Think I’m fooling? I don’t even remember everything we got this week. Broccoli…radishes…beets…lettuce…potatoes…and I know I’m forgetting something. So, there. Neener. Not recapping the whole thing because I’m a total slacker.

I AM, however, loving trying the new foods. So, when I find a recipe that works for us, I share. That’s what my mother always taught me to do, so here I am.

I really think I should start calling these Iron Chef CSA Challenges or some such thing because you seriously have no idea what you’ll be getting and at least one ingredient is usually something you’ve NEVER cooked with in your life. This week, beet will be my challenge. (I’ve only ever had Harvard beets and pickled beets, both delicious, but never from scratch.)

Week #2’s “mystery ingredient” was bok choy. I’ve heard of it…knew it was used in some Chinese dishes…and that was it. So, I didn’t get creative or reinvent the wheel. I threw some brown rice on the stove and looked up some recipes for stir-fry. Then, as per usual, I tweaked it. Hmm. Maybe that’ll be my superhero name: Recipe Tweaker. I can see the leotard now.



Stir-Fry with Chicken and Bok Choy

– 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 tsp. grated ginger (ours is local hydroponic; we keep it in the freezer and slice right off the frozen piece, no need to peel!)
– several tsp. olive oil (whatever oil you like; coconut would work well, too)
– 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks or slices
– 2 carrots, washed & chopped
– 1/2 – 1 red pepper, sliced
– 1 head bok choy, separated: leaves chopped, white part sliced or diced

Sauce :
– 1/4-1/2 c. soy sauce (we were low)
– 1/4 c. water
– 1-2 tsp. corn starch
– 1-2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
– dash+ red pepper flakes

Mix together sauce ingredients and set aside.

Heat up oil in a large skillet over medium to medium high and add garlic and ginger, cooking about 1 minute (watch it!). Add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Add carrots, pepper, and white parts of bok choy and cook until crisp-tender. Add bok choy leaves and cook until wilted. Add sauce and cook until thickened.

Serve over rice or noodles. Add another dash of red pepper flakes or soy sauce if you wish. Peanuts over top are yumm-o, too.

*Seriously, use whatever vegetables you have on hand. ALMOST anything will work.*

The verdict? Hadley’s not a big stir-fry person, but Dave and I liked it. I might have liked it more (like, REALLY liked it), but he’s super polite. I didn’t notice a hugely overpowering flavor, especially considering how much bok choy was in the dish, but a mild flavor. Will definitely make again, now that I know what to do with the thing.

Now, on to the beets. I’m envisioning reddish purple hands.

What about you guys? Try any new foods lately? Have any suggestions for a beet recipe the little man will actually tolerate? (I have some pickled beets in the cabinet I may try on him, just to see how he feels. He loves sour stuff, usually.) 

CSA Week #2

Last week, I talked about our first CSA box. In some ways, it was a success; in other ways, we dropped the ball. It was an awesome learning experience.

Since it’s so early in the season, most of our take involved lettuces. We didn’t tend to and prep the produce quickly enough, so some of it went bad. I put the chives and lovage into some water, but the lovage turned quickly and I wasn’t able to use it. Lesson #1: Fresh produce goes rotten quicker than even the fresh grocery store produce. I kind of knew it already, but naively lost track of time.

It doesn’t mean that we didn’t use lots of the lettuce, the chives, radishes (still looking for some more recipes for those), green onions and Swiss chard.

So, I thought I’d share a recipe that came out pretty darn well. I based it on this recipe, but made slight variations.


Sauteed Swiss Chard with Parmesan and Lemon

2 Tbsp. bacon drippings
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 bunch Swiss chard (separate ribs/stems and chop; chop leaves separately)
splash white wine
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan (or more)
salt to taste (optional)

Heat bacon drippings and butter in saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook about one minute. Add chard’s ribs/stems and white wine; cook about 5 minutes. Add rest of leaves and cook until wilted. Add lemon juice and sprinkle with parmesan.

Would be great with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes or crumbled bacon. 

This week’s box includes: more salad (not nearly as much), including “head lettuce”, frisee, arugula, and spinach; broccoli, broccoli raab, salad turnips, bok choi, and spearmint.

Things are getting interesting now! The ones I’m most excited about figuring out will be bok choi (I assume I’ll be making stir-fry at some point), salad turnips and spearmint.

I was lucky enough to get a list of the week’s take before heading to the grocery store tonight, so my meal plan includes a beef gyro type thing. I’m hoping the tzatziki I make will be improved by the mint. Plus, I’d like to try fresh mint tea. *fingers crossed*

I had never heard of salad turnips before, either, but have found that they can be eaten raw and are on the sweet side. So, we’ll be using them in salads, and I may finally make some homemade hummus to try dippin’.

Now, to use up these radishes… 

First CSA – “Lovage” It

As a sick little boy slumbered for his nap upstairs, I anxiously awaited Dave with the arrival of our first CSA share. What would that little box contain? The farm had sent an email stating the bounty of seedlings they had recently planted, but given the recent cold snaps in the weather, I was doubtful we’d have much to show for it this first week.

Winston was immediately interested in the overflowing, larger-than-expected waxy box. Of course, it smelled like “outside”; his favorite smell. (He loves us when we spend the day outside doing yard work and gets upset when we shower. Strange to us, normal to him.)

The first time through this box was a little of an emotional rollercoaster for this pregnant lady. I noticed a few flower buds and grew excited, “Flowers?? Or, no…wait!” Yup, I knew what it was: chives. They were bundled with a small handful of an unfamiliar herb. It looked like parsley with huge leaves, but upon smelling I knew it couldn’t be. Celery? What herb smells like celery?

Upon further inspection, we found lettuce of all sorts, which admittedly sank my heart a bit. This pregnancy, I have had zero appetite for salads (or much of anything that’s super healthy, honestly), so I thought, “Dave’ll be having lots and lots of salads…or I’d better find an awesome new dressing or vinaigrette recipe to make them palatable.” Keeping positive, this is my plan.

Aside from the overabundance of salad greens, we got 5-6 potatoes, a bunch of radishes, some scallions, and some Swiss chard (another “never cooked with that” item). Overall, I’m super happy with the take, and was surprised at just how much we got, all things considered.

So, this week I’ll be on the lookout for a recipe that the family will actually endure for Swiss chard and a dressing that will help ME endure all the salad in our futures (I had a warm bacon one years ago that I may need to revisit).

As far as the “mystery herb” is concerned, I’ve already done my research (Mother Earth News gave the best information). Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of “lovage”. Needless to say, I never had before. It was apparently a very popular herb, up there with parsley and dill, until just a few generations ago. Funny how an ingredient can be well-known for literally centuries only to lose popularity and become practically unknown in modernity. It definitely says something for the narrowing of our collective taste buds. Hmph.

So, anyway, the facts. Lovage has traditionally had both culinary and medicinal uses, dating back to…well, nobody knows where or when specifically it first originated, but it’s said that the Romans first brought it to England, where it was grown at medieval monasteries. (It could very well have started its life in Asia, for all we know.) It was used to treat rheumatism, and was even brought by the American colonists to consume in tea form in order to ward off the inevitable aches and pains of the New World.

Smelling strongly of celery, it can actually be used any place that celery generally is. However, it is much stronger in flavor, so should be about halved. (Note to self.)

That said, we’re keeping it, along with the chives and their pretty buds, in a bit of water until I can track down some more ingredients. If it’s not too warm over the weekend, a chicken soup would take care of it nicely, as would stuffing (in June? Really, Dellecese?). The leaves also add a bit of celery flavor to salads, so I may have to remember to use them when we’re making our inevitable salads feasts.

Grumble.

Any suggestions for making a food (salads, in general) that has seemed completely disgusting and inedible to a pregnant lady more appetizing? I’ve eaten maaaaaybe one a week. Tops. And it hasn’t been fun. (My husband, who could absolutely live on them, looks at me strangely and, I’m guessing, doesn’t get it.)

I’m thinking BLTs (I don’t eat tomatoes, but I’m down with this…maybe with avocado, yay healthy fat!), using it as a lettuce wrap (Had may be down for this…not sure it’ll help me at all), or just shoot the moon and do taco dip piled high with lettuce. Maybe. Any other ideas??