Sweet Potato, Sausage, and Kale Hash

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Do you ever get bored with breakfast? Lately, I’ve been in a breakfast funk. An egg and cheese just isn’t cutting it for me. I woke up with the need to try something different. ACapture little breakfast/brunch place in our town has a delicious sweet potato and beet hash with a sunny side up egg on top that gave me inspiration. Hash’s (hashes?) are so underrated!

I like to freeze kale from my garden in tiny little portions. For meals like this, its easy to pop a bag open and toss right in – a little extra kick of health! I used the Al Fresco “Country Style” chicken sausage, but any type of sausage could be used.

Can you believe my kale looked like this on Christmas Eve?!? (–>)

 

 

Sweet Potato Hash

2 small sweet potatoes, diced fine (1/4 inch is best)

1/2 small onion, finely diced

1/4 cup frozen kale, thawed, slightly drained

chicken sausage, finely diced

evoo, s&p, cayenne, garlic powder

2 eggs

  1. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 tbsp of olive oil. When hot, add the sweet potatoes and saute for 5-10 minutes or until browned and starting to soften.
  2. Add the onions and sausage. Season with a little garlic, cayenne, salt and pepper. Saute until the onions are soft.
  3. Add the kale. If needed, add about 1/8 cup of water to finish off the potatoes if they are still hard in the middle.
  4. Crack the eggs over the top and let the white cook (you can cook in a separate pan as well).

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Turkey Stuffed Eggplant

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Cooking for one is tough! Ty has been out of town for what seems like forever (away during the weeks, here on weekends)… he literally proposed, then left. A sign?? Hope not!

The filling will easily fill 2 medium eggplants, which will feed 4, but I packed the extra filling away to use later. It was flavorful and filling yet light and healthy. If you make this, I hope you have someone other than a sleepy dog to share your company with.

Turkey Stuffed Eggplant

2 medium eggplants, sliced lengthwise

1 lb ground turkey

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic

4 roma tomatoes (or a small can) diced

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1 tsp each, fresh basil, parsley, and oregano

evoo

fresh Parmesan

1. Preheat over to 400°F. Slice eggplants lengthwise and remove seeded sections (pulp). Keep about 1/2 of the pulp and finely dice. Drizzle a little olive oil inside each half of eggplant and sprinkle with s&p. Place cut side down and cook in oven for 10 minutes. Flip each over and cook an additional 10 minutes. Remove.

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2. In a large skillet, heat about 1 tbsp evoo and garlic. Add any eggplant pulp. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add onions and pepper. Saute until onions start to soften. Add turkey and herbs until cooked through, then add diced tomatoes and cook until warm.

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3. Lower oven temp to 375°F. Scoop turkey mixture into the eggplant halves and top with fresh Parmesan. Bake for 25 minutes.

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Grilled chicken quinoa with roasted corn, peppers, and pine nuts

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I’m back! Well… hopefully for more than one post a year! Woo wee has it been a year!! Long story short, I completed my first year teaching chemistry, I started a Master’s program, our garden is now over 3000 square feet, and I am now engaged to the maple syrup man 🙂

Putting the busy aside… Not much is being produced in the garden as of yet. We are drowning in sugar snap peas, lettuce, and herbs, but are close to harvesting onions, beans, and tomatoes! I love watching the cabbage fold over and the squash plants blossom – it is just too beautiful! After spending 5+ hours weeding today (we were away for a week and the weeds decided to hold my veggies hostage), a light, yet filling dinner was needed. Enter the filling AND light quinoa! I roasted corn that I froze last year in a 400°F oven with a little evoo and s&p for 15 minutes. I used pre-roasted peppers, grilled chicken thighs, fresh basil, and straight-from-Russia pine nuts. Trust me when I say that a small bowl of this is filling.

Chicken Quinoa and Pine Nuts

3-4 grilled boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)

1 cup quinoa cooked according to package

1 1/2 cups roasted corn (or 2 roasted ears)

1/2 cup pine nuts

1 small onion, finely diced

1 pepper, roasted and chopped

bunch of fresh basil, chopped (approx 10 leaves)

crumbled goat cheese

evoo and S&P

The recipe is as easy at is sounds. Cook the quinoa, chicken, and corn (and peppers if using fresh).

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Saute onions over medium heat in about 1 tbsp of olive oil. Once translucent, add pine nuts until slightly browned.

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Toss all ingredients together, season with salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and top with crumbled goat cheese.

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Homemade Pumpkin Puree

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Our winter squashes and pumpkins did incredibly well this year. I ended up with 4 nice sized sugar pumpkins (a few cinderella pumpkins), and plenty of squashes.

While rumor has it that canned pumpkin does not have too much of a taste difference than fresh pumpkin, the benefit of not eating out of cans far outweighs the little bit of effort needed to process a pumpkin. In fact, it is so simple, I think that last can of pumpkin in my cupboard may become a donation. Personally, I think the taste is better- it tastes fresh, not canned! Duh.

Three pumpkins yielded over 16 cups of puree. I packaged 7 ‘can sized’ servings for freezing and some extra to make a batch of pumpkin dark chocolate chip cookies. I can’t wait to make pumpkin soup, muffins, bread, etc…. any pumpkin suggestions?

Pumpkin Puree

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Rinse the outside of two to three sugar pumpkins and pat dry. Remove stem, cut in half and scoop out the guts (yes, that is what I call them). Be sure to save the seeds to roast later (I just tried Worcestershire sauce on the seeds – great idea!).

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When the pumpkins are cleaned out, cut each half into thirds and lay them flesh side up on a cookie sheet. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes until the flesh is soft. Let cool.

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Remove the flesh from the skin and process in a food processor/blender until desired smoothness is achieved. Freeze in baggies or use right away! 1 can of pumpkin is a wee less than 2 cups.

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Green Bean Salad with Bruschetta

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My Mom found this recipe (or one like it) quite a while ago. I feel I was still in high school when she first made it, which to me, is quite a while ago. It has become a staple when fresh green and wax beans are picked daily from the garden. There is something about a fresh homegrown green bean. There is something about anything homegrown.

Speaking of homegrown – I stopped by a little farm store near us and picked out a beautiful ripe tomato (ours are soooo close to ripe!) and some 100% pure Vermont feta cheese! Chain-store feta < local whole-milk feta!

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I like to give credit when credit is due, but since I have no idea where this simple concoction came from, I will give credit to my Mom! I never really pay attention to amounts, so I am guessing below. Just go with what seems right for your palette!

Green Bean Bruschetta

Fresh green beans (about 1/4-1/2 lb)

2 tomatoes

5-8 large basil leaves

crumbled feta cheese (about a 1/4 cup)

olive oil (or any other type of tasty oil)

balsamic vinegar

s & p

1. Clean and trim green beans. In a small pan, add green beans and an inch of water and cover. Place over high heat until boiling. Let boil for about two minutes. Remove, drain, and rinse beans under cold water. (In other words, blanch your beans!).

2. Chop tomato into small cubes. Roll the basil leaves length wise and thinly chop (this will make long strips).

3. Plate the green beans. Top with tomatoes. Crumble the feta cheese over the tomatoes, sprinkle with the basil strips and season with salt and pepper. Prior to serving, drizzle with oil and vinegar.

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Butter Lettuce, Avocado, and Mango Salad

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We have lettuce ready! This is the first year we have ever had lettuce (and radishes, and carrots, and beets). I guess our soil is finally happy 🙂 Composted manure must do the trick!

Mango’s were on sale a little local market, so I bought a few, but tossed them in the fridge and forgot about them. When I grabbed one today, it was perfectly ripe. After a little searching, I noticed that mango and avocado make quite the pair. Along with a slightly sweet cider vinaigrette, a trio of fresh picked lettuce, mango, and avocado, makes this salad a perfect pre-dinner treat on a triple-H day. For those of you non-New Englander’s, triple-H means Hazy, Hot, and Humid!

Butter Lettuce, Avocado, and Mango Salad

A bunch of butter lettuce – cleaned and torn into bite size pieces

1 ripe mango, diced

1 ripe avocado, diced

1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced

feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp maple syrup (honey would work too!)

freshly ground pepper (just a dash or two)

1. Split the salad ingredients between 3-4 salad bowls. Sprinkle with some feta.

2. In a jar, combine the dressing ingredients. Shake well, taste. Adjust for sweetness by adding more vinegar or syrup. Drizzle on salad. Enjoy!

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The plants are in… well, half of them anyway

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I was greeted by the song of this little fella on the garden fence…

Well, I did get by butt in the garden, but after a little over 6 hours, I only planted about half of what I had hoped to! I planned to hold off on planting peppers and tomatoes because we live in northern New England, where you n.e.v.e.r know when winter will actually end, but I had planned on getting everything else in the ground. Wishful thinking. I definitely needed Ty to help plant. I think the size of our garden this year requires two people to complete any task in a reasonable amount of time.

I planted snap peas, carrots, radishes, beets, wax and green beans from seed and I got a whole bunch of other ‘starts’ into the dirt.

IMG_1576Chives are up and ready to be eaten.

IMG_1591Sage (is it time to dress that turkey yet??)

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Have you ever seen Cilantro like this? I may have picked and nibbled a few leaves…

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Onion… standing tall!

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Marigolds are ready to protect!

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Rainbow Chard

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Rain on the way. Forecast is calling for a perfect week of warmth, sun, and drizzle. I’ve got to get the rest planted!!

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I pass this wild apple on every trip to the garden. Thank you Johnny for giving Vermont such an abundance of a beautiful tree! 

Ramp (Wild Leek) and Kale Grilled Pizza

IMG_1530 Up here, in zone 4, spring is just starting. The hills are coming alive with muted-fall colors. A soft tinge of reds, whites, golds, and oranges are popping out and traveling up in elevation daily. It is just beautiful! One of the first plants to come out of the ground in this area, besides crocuses and daffodils, are ramps (aka wild leeks). I ventured down to the garden to start cleaning up and to toss a few lettuce seeds into the soil and noticed these gorgeous lime green leaves springing from crunchy fall debris. I yanked on a set of leaves only to be intoxicated with this amazing garlic and onion scent. I picked a bunch, took them home, made sure they were what I thought, and returned to pick some more. IMG_1515 Ty expressed a little fear in eating them, thinking that clearly they must be poisonous. I pointed out that he eats wild berries ALL the time and technically all vegetables were once wild! I think his previous feelings about wild plants went out the window when he saw this pizza! Woo wee, it was delish! A whole grain crust, topped with local baby kale, freshly foraged ramps, and smoked pepperoni = so so good!

Ramp and Kale Pizza

1 large pizza dough

1 can crushed tomato

fresh or dried basil and oregano

crushed red pepper

1 ball or log of fresh mozzarella, sliced thin

15 or so slices of smoked pepperoni

10 or so ramps, diced (use ALL of the ramp)

2 cups baby kale, any tough stems removed

evoo

1. Preheat your grill to high heat. Roll out your pizza dough. Any shape will do as long as it fits your grill.

2. Over medium heat on the stove, toss your ramps and kale together and saute with a little olive oil until just starting to wilt. Remove from heat.

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3. Lower heat on your grill to medium/medium-low and coat one side of the dough with olive oil. Here comes the fun part. Grab your dough, and flip it onto the grill grates- oiled side down (if it folds up, oh well.. grilled pizzas are pretty no matter what!). Close the lid and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Check after about 3 minutes for bubbles, pop if needed. When you get nice grill marks on the underside, slide the dough onto a cutting board or pizza paddle. 4. Oil the not-yet grilled side of the dough and flip over. Assemble your pizza on the grilled side. Spread a generous amount of tomatoes, sprinkle with basil, oregano, and a little crushed red pepper. Arrange the sliced mozzarella and pepperoni atop the sauce. Spread out the kale and ramps evenly on top. 5. Return the pizza to the grill. Grill for another 5-7 minutes or until the bottom is cooked nicely. Slide the pizza off, cut, and enjoy! IMG_1525 IMG_1526 …. I’m thinking of pickling some ramps next……

Grilled Vegetable and Italian Sausage Pasta Toss

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I wasn’t sure what to call this dish. It’s a mish-mash of vegetables we have in the house, grilled, tossed with some pasta, and enjoyed either warm or cold. I’d call it a pasta salad, but I always correlate pasta salad with raw veggies on a hot summer day. Enter the ‘pasta toss’. A while back my Mom made a grilled veggie salad with Israeli Couscous and a balsamic dressing. I guess after eating that, I realized how good/easy it is to grill a plethora of vegetables and toss it with pasta.

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Although it is not yet summer in Vermont (not even close… it snowed two days ago!), it was 54 degrees today and sunny, so it felt pretty warm! It’s also been insanely windy, so our grill took yet another ride off the porch and rolled about on the ground. I hauled it back up, put all the grates back in, hooked up the propane, and somehow, it lit! The $80 grill that could! So, with a cutting board full of vegetables and a pot of pasta on the stove, dinner was prepped and ready in about 20 minutes.

Italian Sausage and Vegetable Pasta

1 lb sweet or spicy italian sausage

1 lb pasta (bow ties, ziti, rotini, etc.)

1 bell pepper, cut into large chunks

1 zucchini, cut in half

3-4 carrots, peeled

1 onion, cut in half with skin removed

1/3 lb asparagus, trimmed

any other grill-able vegetable (I added 3 stalks celery)

1/4 cup + evoo

s & p

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 splash balsamic vinegar

parmesan cheese, finely grated

1. Cook pasta. Drain and set aside.

2. Preheat grill on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Grill sausage links for about 5 minutes per side, or until charred lightly. Move to upper rack.

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3. Lightly brush vegetables with olive oil and generously salt and pepper all pieces. Lower the grill heat to medium/medium-low and place vegetables on lower rack. Grill for about 5-7 minutes, if starting to char, rotate and continue grilling until lightly charred on all sides (this is like a tetris game… if you have small grill, all pieces need to fit without falling through!). Remove vegetables and sausage when cooked.

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4. When the vegetables and sausage are cooled enough to handle, chop into bite-size chunks. Add to the pasta. Give a good ‘glug’ of evoo, about a 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, and a dash of balsamic. Toss. Season with salt and pepper (fresh basil would be delish!). Serve either warm or cooled.

IMG_1464p.s.- You can substitute about anything you want in this dish. Instead of sausage, how about grilled chicken? You could grill up some broccoli or cauliflower, or add some corn or frozen peas… play with it!

Fish Tacos with Spicy Slaw

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It’s been almost a month since I have posted and WOW have I missed all of you… my readers!! I have also really, really, really, really (really x 10^28) missed having the time or energy to cook or craft.

To fill you in. I am an officially licensed grades 7-12 science teacher!! With the culmination of my teaching program, which included hours upon hours of portfolio writing, and getting offered a long-term substitute job, I have been overwhelmed. I’ll also throw out there that we may be moving (yes, that’s right, after 5 months) because of unforeseen BS. I’ll leave it at that. My point is that between teaching over 120 sophomores/juniors chemistry and biology and getting up at 5am daily, life got a wee busy.

With such a drastic change, I realized that we were eating like crap. Not to mention Ty has been doing the maple-syrup-making-thing pretty much 24 hrs a day, which has left all meals up to me. So, finally getting caught up on grading and planning and looking at a week off, I thought of having something tasty, yet simple – fish tacos! Some frozen flounder and an easy spicy cole slaw all wrapped up in a flour tortilla was just what I needed. It reminded me that I actually can cook! I thought I forgot for a while there!

Spicy Cole Slaw

1 small head green cabbage, shredded

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 carrots, shredded

1 jalapeno, minced (optional)

1/3 cup mayo

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

3 tsp celery seed

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

2 tbsp brown sugar

s & p

1. Mix all of the veggies in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk the dressing until smooth. Combine with the veggies and toss until coated. Season to taste. Let sit for at least an hour (longer will soften the cabbage a little).

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Fish Tacos

1 lb frozen flounder (or other light, white fish)

1/2 cup flour

s & p

evoo

taco size flour tortillas (corn would be good too!)

1. Mix flour and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Coat each fillet of fish with the flour and drop into a hot pan with a good coating of olive oil (enough to cover the bottom – 3-4 tbsp).

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2. Let fish fry on one side until browned, approx. 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes. This should be plenty for a thin fillet. Remove onto paper towels. Repeat until all fillets are cooked. You may find you need to add a little more olive oil to the pan.

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3. Add the fillets back to the pan and break into bite-sized pieces (the oil should be long soaked up!).

4. Arrange your tacos. Heat the tortilla a bit, add some fish, top with a good helping of cole slaw, and if desired, a dash of Sriracha or Cholula sauce! Enjoy a light and tasty meal!

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