Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Favorite Green Bean Recipe

Forgive my photo taking skills. They are definitely not the best, in fact I might say I'm camera/photo challenged.

But I am not green bean cooking challenged, even my KIDS love this!! (I'm assuming the bacon pieces are what draw their attention.)

I've loved green beans for as long as I can remember, but it wasn't until I met my husband that I actually had young, tender, green beans. Ones that still had some snap to them and I absolutely fell in love. I'm from the Midwest, so for us green beans were always boiled with potatoes and bacon = no textural differences. Now I'm not slamming that way of preparing them, it's just not my first choice anymore.

If green beans are in season I recommend getting them fresh, snapping the end pieces off and blanching them before doing anything else. If you don't have that luxury then opt for frozen young whole green beans. We prefer the VIP brand. So let's dive right in.

4 strips of bacon chopped
1 small onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup white wine
1 pound green beans (thawed if frozen)
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper

1. Start out with a cold sauce pan and put your bacon pieces in it (I know most people start bacon in a hot skillet but to render out the fact, keep the bacon from curling and get it super crispy you start it out cold and heat both the pan and bacon at the same time)

2. Once your bacon is passed the limp stage but not quite super crisp dump in the onions and stir to combine, if you are using a stainless steel pan the onions will help pull some of the cooked bits off the bottom. Let this cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions are tender. Stirring occasionally.

4. Now dump in the garlic and stir together, cook for about 2 minutes and then add in the white wine to de-glaze the pan and pull up all those yummy cooked bits.

5. After the wine has reduced by half throw in your green beans and warm through.

6. Season with salt and pepper to taste and then serve.

We'll be having this tonight with baby back ribs...YUM!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Too Legit

So I couldn't help myself with the post title. A good friend of mine commented last night about me going legit so it only seemed fitting. Going legit with what you might ask?

I made the leap into the world of Facebook business pages. We're local only for now but it's still a huge step to me. You can check it out by clicking here. I've also linked this blog to my page so hopefully that motivates me to keep it updated. As another friend put it, I'm a quarterly poster ;), I'd have to say that "quarterly" in itself is kind, I wouldn't even say I'm quarterly about it!

I won't have any pictures in this post, fumbling with the camera in the kitchen is not my strong suit at all, in fact I love my camera and would hate for it to have an accident such as falling into a pot of hot bubbling jam or anything of the like.

It's one of those days where you can't really call it nasty but it surely isn't nice out either, ya know what I'm talking about? Overcast, gloomy, not raining but not sprinkling either...a steady depressing misting sort of day....My son woke up this morning sound a bit congested, coughing here and there, and with my still-swollen-from-wisdom-teeth-extraction-face I decided today was going to have to be another soup day, a chicken soup day. Hopefully that will keep him from getting any worse, I'll probably give him some warm lemon and honey water too for the cough.

So how am I going to make my soup? As I scanned the pantry I realized I'm completely out of homemade chicken stock (bummer, put that on the weekend project list) so we'll be doing it a little different today. We had roasted chicken 2 nights ago so I'll use the leftovers from that with the makings for stock in my soup pot and maybe, and I cringe as I type this, some chicken bouillon for added flavor. The soup pot is really a blank canvas asking for different combinations and flavors to be added to it. I'll share what's going into mine today

Leftover Roasted Chicken (2 breast pieces and some dark meat)
2 large carrots halved
1 onion sliced
3 cloves of roasted garlic
2 ribs of celery halved
coarse sea salt (to taste)
whole peppercorns (to taste)
1 bay leaf
allspice berries (to taste)
chicken bouillon cube (optional)

I like to cook down my onions so they give off a sweet and buttery flavor and texture to the soup so start with that. Put some olive oil (or butter) in the bottom of your soup pot and cook up the onions until tender. Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Cover with water. I usually add in 4 peppercorns and 3 allspice berries so I don't overpower everything else and about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover. Mine will go for a couple of hours, if your veggies get to mushy you can always strain out the stock, pick the meat off the bones and return the meat to the stock then add in some new vegetables so they aren't complete mush and reheat and readjust the seasonings. If you want to add noodles do so at the end of cooking so they aren't overdone. Or serve with crusty bread. My husband is going the Primal/Paleo route so I try to avoid serving him temptation.

That's my soup though! I'll do my best to share at least one recipe a week if not more. What do you put into your soup pot on days like today?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gardening Update

I wanted to post some pictures of our fall garden, these pictures are kinda old so I'll have to take some more to here soon. We actually picked our romaine lettuce today (I felt as if it might bolt right in front of my eyes!
I can't remember if I told ya'll about our newest endeavor with gardening, so if this is a repeat my apologies, I tend to be a bit redundant. Our container gardens were a mixed bag of successes and failures and we were getting pretty frustrated with housings regulations. Luckily MWR offered raised garden beds to rent for the year so we signed up as soon as we could. We were lucky in that we were the first people to pick out a plot.

But with fall right around the corner we're pretty limited in what we can plant, this is my first cool weather garden ever.

So far so good! Things have been progressed extremely well, better than I thought they ever would! Want to know what we've got in the ground? Well, we planted a couple of different varieties of cabbage, kale, romaine lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, turnips, mesclun, and spinach. Like I said, so far, we've had great successes. The romaine lettuce is delicious and gorgeous, we have had zero pest problems and have used no pesticides or chemical fertilizers. I think I've fallen in love with cool weather crops actually. The only picture I have of our romaine lettuce "harvest" happens to be on my smart phone, but I will battle the technology monsters and figure out how to get it out here to share.

Gardening has been a fantastic family project, we've had the whole family involved and it's been a blast. The kids actually enjoy helping weed the garden (well for now anyway) and they also had a lot of fun planting some of our goodies. As you can see my husband does a good job of striking a pose while watering (shh don't tell him you see this haha), normally I use a sprinkler in the garden because the water pressure is crazy bad, one of the other plot owners has had exploding hose issues. The Broccoli should be the next thing ready to be picked, on our next weeding endeavor I'll bring the camera along to take another progress picture. I'm also working on a Blues Clues costume for my 2 yo son (I tried explaining Blue is a girl but he just isn't having that) that I'll post on here as well.

Oh...before I go...we did "harvest" one unexpected thing...a full brick. SO it's a good thing we didn't use a tiller and went old school, let this be a lesson to you, be careful! If you didn't fill your plot, find out who did and where the dirt came from. I haven't called the people in charge yet but now that I have my camera uploaded to the computer I think they'll be getting a brick through their email =).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Still Here

Maybe I'm not cut out for this blogosphere stuff, I'm horrible with being consistent on posting. My apologies...again. Things have been a little all over the place here lately. Learned some life lessons about friends the hard way but such is life I suppose.

No pictures today, but I'll fix that over the weekend hopefully. We rented a garden plot and I've started planting our fall crop. So far we've planted kale, purple cabbage, green cabbage, savoy cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and romaine lettuce. I'm hoping the weather cooperates this weekend so we can put out mesclun, spinach, turnips and beets.

My youngest girl started Pre-K this year and it has been a blast to watch her go from being "that kid" (you know, the one that screams for an hour on the first day..) to absolutely loving school. I couldn't be prouder of my kiddos.

The weather has been a bit of a bully out here lately, going from ridiculously hot to a teasingly cool autumn feeling and back up to sticky, humid, nastiness. I'm ready for beyond ready for autumn. I want to go apple picking, pumpkin patch hopping, jam making, and cider tasting, all while wearing cozy scarves and hats. Patience.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

First "Harvest"

Here I am again, apologizing for my absence. Someone should just throw something at me! I can defend at least 7 days!! We finally took a much needed family vacation to the beautiful Puerto Rico. My parents celebrated their 25th anniversary with a fantastic vow renewal ceremony and I ate until I could eat no more. Bacalaitos, arroz con habichuelas, pulpo, chicharrones de pollo, the list goes on and on.

When we got home from vacation I was greeted by my garden, who in a lush show of green beckoned me closer. That tiny plant above with a small yellow blossom would be Audrey's watermelon, the only one to survive might I add.

Left is our two corn stalks that weren't carried off by our greedy backyard squirrels. As you can see (since I'm a horrid blogger and never provided pictures) the corn is growing out of the Miracle Grow Garden Soil bag. Since we live on base we're very restricted on what/where we can plant so a raised bed was required. A raised bed would be too much of a hassle so we opted for this method to see how it turned out. So far so good.

Everything has seemed to adjust really well to this method, it all had a very slow start and we worried a few times that they just weren't going to make it. We lost a few plants along the way but that much we expected.

This is our first garden here, last year we tried a container tomato plant that we purchased at Wal-Mart, I think it gave us 2 tomatoes and quit. This little green bean plant here is tiny but oh so mighty. It's produced a lot more beans than I had ever expected at it's size.

The tomatoes are doing really well too, and those were the ones we were really concerned about. The heat our here has been outrageous and I was just waiting for the morning when I'd walk out there and the tomatoes would be kaput. Instead I was greeted one morning to 6 tomato plants that seemed to grow a foot overnight. I'm really excited about putting these up. I will definitely blog about that process, might even throw a little canning party. We chose Roma tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes, next year I'll up the ante to some heirloom varieties and see how that goes.

The one plant that I still have some worry over would be the summer squash.

They've got lovely blooms but we have something that keeps eating them, I'd guess it's little bunny foo foo. I'm open to how to keep them out if you have any suggestions!

The next few pictures are to show the set up so you get a better idea of what we did with the little space we have and the restrictions that we're under.

Two of the kiddie pools had different varieties of potatoes and the third is where our lone watermelon resides. We lined the rest of the bags up along the back fence where they get the best light and are out of the way of wild children. We pulled the potatoes today and are going to replant some more soon.

Here's what our little garden has produced for us so far :)

Yes. I am aware that the Roma tomato is green. This is what happens when you have a 2 year old who insists on "helping" Mommy and Daddy. Don't say you weren't warned. A green tomato here and there is nothing in comparison to the knowledge and connection your children will have to the Earth and their food. Don't worry if they pick a few things before their time, just be sure to let them know when it IS the right time. I will feel successful in parenting if my kids garden at all, even a tiny herb window box would make me happy.

Hopefully I'll have an abundance of pictures to share of our micro harvests.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mushroom Risotto=BEST MIDNIGHT SNACK!!

So there I was, sitting on the couch, glass of ice water in hand....watching Chopped on Food Network. I always get so excited when they reveal the ingredients in each basket as I try to come up with something they could make. This particular night I got those oh so joyous hunger pangs and decided it was time to make something soul satisfying.

Immediately I recalled the half container of sliced mushrooms in the fridge that was going to go bad if they weren't used soon as well as the countless quart jars of homemade vegetable stock in the pantry as well as the giant bag of rice in there that gets very little use now that the husband has gone caveman on me. Or should I say Primal...Paleo...well no...primal as he still partakes in the occasional dairy treat and some sweeteners.

Anywho enough about that...onto the good stuff. I made a delicious pot full of mushroom risotto. Oh my word it was so delicious, I've never had risotto before and had never made it as it's always intimidated me. There were leftovers (I did eat 2 bowls though) and so the next night I made arancini di riso to go along with dinner which is lovely balls of risotto with mozzarella cheese in the middle, rolled in bread crumbs and fried.

So how can you make this at home? Let's get down to business..

Ingredients:(this recipe is adapted from a Giada de Laurentiis recipe)

One and a half quart jars of homemade Vegetable/Chicken Stock
3 tablespoons butter
one onion finely chopped
handful of mushrooms finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 1/2 cups medium grain rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

First things first get that stock warmed through, pour into a seperate pan and bring it to a simmer, then cover it until time to use it.

Melt 2 tbsp. of your butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add in your onions and mushrooms and saute until tender, do NOT brown the onions. After they are nice and soft toss in the garlic until it becomes super fragrant. Add in the rice and stir it around in the veggie mix to coat. Add in the wine and simmer until the wine is just about completely evaporated, about 3 minutes or so. Start ladling in your stock, (the recipe calls for 1/2 a cup at a time, I did a ladle full at a time) and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue this process, adding in the broth until the rice absorbs it all and then adding in another ladle full of stock. You'll do this until the rice is tender but with a little bite to it and the mixture has a delicious creamy consistency, it took about 25 minutes for me. Take your risotto off the heat and then add in the remaining tablespoon of butter, the cheese and the salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately!

I am NOT technically savvy, just the opposite in fact, so I have no idea how to post a picture taken with my iPhone. If any of you know and would like to let me in on that secret so I can give you a picture to look at of this deliciousness please TELL ME! hehehe

Tomorrow I'll do my best to post an update on the garden.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Is it really MAY already?!

Wow, so time flies when you don't pay attention to the Calendar. My inbox was inundated with recipes for Cinco de Mayo and our 2 week menu plan I put together has us eating turkey kebabs, hummus, naan and tzatziki. Ahh the joys of motherhood. Although...none of us are Mexican so it's not even really a day for us right? I always find that funny, we're all honorary Mexicans on the 5th of May so we have an excuse to drink a pitcher of margaritas regardless of whether it's a Monday or a Saturday.

Anyhow, this post isn't really going in any certain direction but I know it's been awhile. I'm afraid I've caught the couponing bug. Yep, not TLC style but I've got a binder. I'm cheap...what can I say? If someone says I can get free products or reduce my grocery bill then hell yeah where do I sign up?!

I will try to be better with this though. I was contemplating waiting up to watch the Justified season finale but I'm exhausted. It's been a loooong day. I think tomorrow I'll do an update on the garden so I can show you it's progress so far...and the rest of the garden for that matter. Oh and how our compost pile has turned into a mini garden of it's own. Guess that means the soil was good right?!