Archive | September, 2011

Spicy Crock Pot Collard Greens

30 Sep

I was really excited to get collard greens in our weekly CSA basket.  I love collard greens, mustard greens, beet greens, or any greens that can stand up to braising, sautéeing, boiling, and cooking of all descriptions.  My only regret is that we didn’t get about ten times as many, because these spicy crock pot collard greens were to die for.  I took a taste about forty five minutes before serving time and my mouth continuously watered thereafter.  These have the perfect balance of tanginess from the vinegar, spice from the peppers, and salty, pork-y goodness from the bacon.  This made for just barely two servings, and I could have easily eaten about a gallon of these.

Spicy Crock Pot Collard Greens

1 bunch collard greens, rinsed, trimmed, and chopped (about 4 cups)

2 slices bacon

1 very hot pepper, such as a habanero

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3 cups homemade chicken stock (or enough to just barely cover greens)

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In the slow cooker or crock pot, add one slice of bacon.  Top with collard greens.  Toss with hot pepper and red wine vinegar.  Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Top with remaining slice bacon.  Pour homemade chicken stock over.

Cover and cook on low for 10 hours, stirring every several hours.

Serve over brown rice.  Ladle some of the cooking juices over.

Honey and Balsamic Baked Figs

29 Sep

I’ve always been a huge fan of figs.  However, it’s hard to find a good one in the grocery stores around here, so I was super excited when my dad told me I could grab a bowl and walk over to the neighbor’s yard to pick my fill of them.  I must confess that I used to sneak over there from time to time as a kid (and teenager … and when I moved back in after I graduated from college …) to steal figs when I thought the coast was clear.  Just one or two.  Shhhh …

Anyway, the figs tasted just as good when I had explicit permission from the fig tree (bush?) owner to take some.  As a special treat, I wanted to make something that really showcased the delicate sweetness and vibrant flavor of the figs, and this preparation fit that bill to a tee.

This picture does not do this beautiful dish justice (as is so often the case on this blog).  This time, it was because I wanted to devour it that very second and figured two pictures were good enough.  Oh well.  Served over some plain Greek yogurt, these figs made up a healthy, delicious, and surprisingly filling breakfast.  They would also make an excellent dessert served atop some vanilla ice cream.  Make sure not to skip the salt and pepper at the end – it really makes the sweetness of the figs shine.  The balsamic adds a bit of a tart bite and rounds the whole thing out.

Honey and Balsamic Baked Figs

About a dozen figs, stemmed and halved

1/4 cup honey

2 tbs. balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup whole almonds, toasted

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350º.

Mix together honey and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan.  Heat over low heat until a syrup forms, whisking frequently, about 4 minutes.  Add almonds.  Toss figs with honey and balsamic mixture.

Place on a tinfoil lined baking sheet, cut sides up.

Bake 10-12 minutes until beginning to brown.  Season liberally with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Chinese Style Sweet and Spicy Pork Ribs with Soba Chow Mein Pepper and Green Bean Stir Fry

27 Sep

This meal is a really easy way to incorporate some Asian flavors and cooking techniques into a week night menu.  Simply put the ribs and ingredients in a slow cooker and let it run while you’re at work all day, take a few minutes to cut up and stir fry some vegetables, and you have an amazingly flavorful, filling, and vegetable packed meal on your hands.  I really loved the way the sweetness of the peach preserves played against the super spicy pepper I included, but if you want less heat, feel free to substitute a less spicy pepper or just a dash of crushed red pepper flakes.  You could also substitute some ketchup for the tomato – I didn’t have any on hand and figured an extra dose of fresh vegetables couldn’t hurt.

The stir fried noodles had a lovely tang to them thanks to the rice wine vinegar and lemon juice that worked really well with the sweetness of the ribs and were complemented perfectly with an undertone of umami from the sesame oil.  I left the vegetables with quite a bit of crunch to them, but if you like your peppers and green beans a little softer, just stir fry them for longer.

No matter what route you take, this is going to be a flavor-packed dish that is absolutely addictive.  The pork ribs are tender and falling off the bone with a sticky-sweet and hot sauce that is finger-licking good and the chow mein has a great variation in texture and flavor thanks to the sweet peppers, crispy green beans, and tangy noodles.

Chinese Style Sweet and Spicy Pork Ribs with Soba Chow Mein Pepper and Green Bean Stir Fry

Chinese Style Sweet and Spicy Pork Ribs:

1.5 lb. bone-in Chinese-style pork ribs

3 tbs. corn starch

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 cup orange and cinnamon peach preserves (or peach jam or preserves)

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup fresh tomato, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small very hot pepper, minced (such as a habanero, bird’s eye, or Thai pepper)

Lightly dredge the pork ribs in the corn starch.  Don’t worry if you don’t coat them entirely.

Place ribs in the slow cooker.  Add all other ingredients  and cover.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until very tender, stirring very occasionally to make sure ribs evenly cook.

Remove cover from slow cooker and raise heat to high.  Cook another 1-2 hours until sauce is reduced.

Serve on top of soba chow mein pepper and green bean stir fry (see below).

Soba Chow Mein Pepper and Green Bean Stir Fry:

1  package soba chow mein noodles, cooked according to package instructions, drained, and rinsed

1 medium green bell pepper, cut into long, 1/2″ thick strip

1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into long, 1/2″ thick strips

2 cups green beans, ends trimmed

1 tbs. sesame oil

1 tbs. rice wine vinegar

1 lemon, juiced

Heat sesame oil over high heat in a large wok.  Add peppers and green beans and cook, shaking frequently, for 4-5 minutes until slightly tender, or to desired doneness.

Add noodles, rice wine vinegar, and lemon juice.  Toss thoroughly to combine and cook until noodles are heated through.

Smashed Potato and Swiss Chard Casserole

26 Sep

This casserole was one of my favorite healthy meals in a long time.  There was a delightful variation in textures and flavors – the creamy potatoes, crisp peppers, soft tomatoes and crunchy stems of the Swiss chard.  I loved that the dish was lacto-ovo vegetarian, including only a cup of cheese, but packed a punch of flavors that married well together.  It was also extremely colorful.

Don’t worry if you don’t have dill pickle juice laying around to combine with the potatoes, simply season them with salt and reserve a 1/4 cup of liquid from the pot in which you boiled them.  Also feel free to play around with the included vegetables.  I might try a variation on this in the near future that includes hot rather than bell peppers, because I think the starchiness of the potatoes and creaminess of the cheese would cut well against the heat.  I also think another layer of potato on top of the Swiss chard but before the tomatoes would be really delicious.

Smashed Potato and Swiss Chard Casserole

4-5 cups small redskin potatoes, scrubbed clean

1/4 cup brine from refrigerator dill pickles

1 tbs. Brummel & Brown (or butter or preferred butter substitute)

1 tbs. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bell pepper, color of choice, cut into thin strips

1 large bunch Swiss chard, stems included, roughly chopped (yield about 6 cups loosely packed)

1 cup Monterey cheese, shredded, divided (I used 100% grass fed)

1 or 2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/4″ round slices

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350º.

Spray 9″ x 13″ casserole dish with cooking spray.

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add potatoes and cook 10-15 minutes, or until fork tender.  Drain.  Smash the potatoes to desired consistency using a fork or potato masher, mixing in Brummel & Brown and pickle juice as you go.  I kept ours quite lumpy.  Spread evenly over the bottom of prepared casserole dish.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and bell peppers and sauté 4-5 minutes until crisp-tender.  Add Swiss chard, season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, and sauté another 3-4 minutes until wilted.  Remove from to a large bowl and mix in 1/2 cup of the cheese.  Transfer to the casserole dish.

Top with slices of tomato.  Season tomato slices with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.  Cover with tinfoil. [Note:  This can be prepared ahead of time.  I refrigerated my prepared casserole for six hours and removed to sit at room temp for about an hour and a half before serving.]

Transfer to oven.  Bake about 40 minutes.  Remove cover and bake another 10 minutes until cheese begins to brown.

Geauga Family Farms CSA – Week Fifteen

25 Sep

Summer CSA – Week Fifteen

In this week’s CSA share, we received about half a dozen sweet Yummy orange peppers, one yellow squash, two hot banana peppers, a small head of garlic, a bunch of collard greens, a bunch of apples, a head of lettuce, a bag of green beans, some tomatoes, two green peppers, half a dozen very hot peppers, an eggplant, and some potatoes.  I’m very excited about all the variation, particularly in the peppers.

Our leftovers from last week include one yellow pepper, a few apples, a bit of lettuce, and about half of the green beans.  The grilled skirt steak and pepper salad used lettuce and a tomato from week fourteen, and peppers and corn from week thirteen.  Slow cooker apple butter used apples from week thirteen.  I also used the slow cooker apple butter in the delicious apple butter pancakes.  The roasted eggplant, tomato, and carrot soup used eggplant, a tomato, garlic and carrots from week fourteen.  I have a few other recipes up my sleeves as to how I used up the ingredients, as well.  I also made crispy roasted green beans again, because they were so absolutely delicious

For dinner tonight, I’m going to make some slow cooked Chinese-style pork ribs with a stir fry of green beans, peppers, and squash.  I’m thinking about making some spicy collard greens with a few pieces of bacon I have hanging around.  I’m hoping to make a hot pepper relish with some of the peppers.  Other than that, I’m not too sure, but whatever it is I’m sure it will be delicious.

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