Thursday Night Menu: Farm Stand Edition

Tonight’s menu is really in anticipation of fresh summer produce. We are not quite there yet, but you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the ingredients. While I lived in suburbia, there was a great farm stand a mile or so from my house. I passed it coming and going from work and errands. It was perfect for when I wanted something fresh for dinner that night. Farmers’ Markets are great, but nothing beats a farm stand you can shop at any day. I had in the back of my mind that since I moved, I needed to scout out a new one, but hadn’t given it a lot of thought or effort. And then came the lost wallet.

One of the guys I work with found a wallet, stuffed with cash, cards…you know basically someone’s entire financial life. A bit of investigation and he tracked her down. Come to find out she lives a few miles from me, so I was the logical person to return the wallet. I knew from the address it was going to be a beautiful location, and it was, farmland on the river with a breathtaking mountain view. Very nice family and even better, they operate a farm stand with organic produce. Kismet. You never know how you’ll find what you’re looking for.

And I must give a shout out to our wallet owner. Very kind, very appreciative, she handed me a wad of cash to give to my guy and then handed me a grocery card. I tried to refuse, because I really believed we were just doing the right thing. But she was a feisty 95lb woman in her 80’s that would brook no refusal and while I could have probably arm-wrestled her to the ground, it didn’t seem appropriate. I think I’m going to enjoy shopping their farm stand this summer.

On the board tonight:

  1. Creamy Chicken & Pasta
  2. Fresh Garden Medley
  3. Sliced Melon

Creamy Chicken & Pasta

  • 12 oz bow tie or other pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into large cubes
  • 1pkg fresh basil (usually about 2 oz)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 large tomato, chopped

large saucepan and deep skillet

Heat water and cook pasta according to package directions. In skillet, heat oil, add onions and sauté. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Reduce heat, add basil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove onions, chicken & basil, set aside. Add garlic, butter and flour, stirring constantly, then add milk . Stirring constantly, heat for 1 minute until it bubbles and is thickened, reduce heat, add parmesan, salt & pepper, stirring constantly until creamy.

Add tomato & chicken mixture to sauce and stir together. Let simmer on low for 5 minutes. Drain pasta well (you may even want to dab with a paper towel) and toss with chicken mixture. Serve immediately.

Fresh Garden Medley

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 small eggplant, thinly sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 tsp dried basil (or 3 leaves fresh, minced)
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan (opt)

skillet

Heat oil in skillet, add onion and garlic, sauté until onion is golden. Add eggplant, stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add squash, tomato & spices, sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve w/parmesan if desired.

Shopping List:

  • 12 oz bow tie or other pasta
  • 6 green onions
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1pkg fresh basil (usually about 2 oz)
  • 1 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 small zucchini
  • melons

Also: olive oil, crushed garlic, butter, milk, flour, oregano, dried basil

Kitchen Garden

I’m going to repost some of the gardening posts from last year….

(From May 2009) So it’s time to get serious about gardening.  Here’s some things I suggest for a great summer vegetable garden.  This offers a variety of healthy eating all summer long and tomatoes and peppers to freeze or can for winter.

I prefer raised beds, here’s a plan for a 4×6 raised bed kitchen garden.  I prefer raised beds because it’s easier to navigate, keep down pests and keep moist.  On one end, you’ll want to have a trellis.   This will be where the peas, beans and cucumbers will go.  You’ll divide the garden into 1 sqare foot sections (use string to create a grid, remove after planting). In one square foot each, you’ll be able to plant several of each kind of plant.

4 pole (green) beans, 8 peas (mix up varieties),  2 cucumber plants and 1 summer squash.   Moving inward:  kale (2 ), collards (2), eggplant (1) and carrots (12-16).  Next row: radishes and onions (8 each), tomatillos (1), tomato (1), tomato (1).  Next row: tomato (1), leaf lettuce (16), spinach (9), tomato (1).  Last row:  pepper (1), pepper (1), pepper (1), tomato (1).

Notice the lettuce and spinach are shaded by the the tomato and pepper plants this will help them stay cooler during the hotter months.   Peppers, tomatillos, eggplant and tomatoes will need cages, I prefer the cone shaped ones.  Orientation is helpful – in this garden, the first row is better if it’s north or east, and the final row is south or west.

Next I’ll create an herb container garden.  Because what’s good cooking without fresh cilantro, basi and lemon thyme.  Until then….

Lamb Kabobs

JeffreyW has been making some tempting gyros.  I thought if that has put you in the mood for lamb, but you’re not quite ready to grind your own, this might satisfy your craving.

Lamb Kabobs

  • 1 lb lamb, boneless shoulder cut, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp oregano, crushed
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 green pepper, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 onion, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into 8-12 pieces
  • 4 large (11-12 inches) metal skewers

broiler pan or grill

Mix lemon juice, oil, salt, oregano, pepper in bowl or plastic bag and add lamb cubes. Let marinate overnight. Remove lamb and reserve marinade.

Alternate on skewers: pepper, lamb, onion & eggplant. Broil or grill for 5 minutes, turn and brush with marinade, cook additional 5 minutes, turn, marinate, cook another 5 minutes.

Thursday Night Menu: Lamb Kabobs

I have the cooking doldrums. I always get them this time of year. I’ve finished with all the holiday dinners and goodies and am wishing for summer vegetables and grilling. This leaves me in the long night of winter wondering what to cook. I begin to find myself drawn to flavors of warm climates: Caribbean; Cuban; Southwestern; Greek;  Middle Eastern; or Polynesian.

For our Thursday Night Menu I decided a touch of fresh lemon and honey might perk things up.   As always, I’ve kept it simple, so if you’re hesitant in the kitchen, you can still find success here.

On the board tonight:

  1. Lamb Kabobs -Marinate Overnight
  2. Tabbouleh
  3. Honeyed Carrots
  4. Sautéed Pears

Lamb Kabobs

  • 1 lb lamb, boneless shoulder cut, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp oregano, crushed
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 lb cherry tomatoes
  • 1 onion, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into 8-12 pieces
  • 4 large (11-12 inches) metal skewers

broiler pan

Mix lemon juice, oil, salt, oregano, pepper in bowl or plastic bag and add lamb cubes. Let marinate overnight. Remove lamb and reserve marinade. Alternate on skewers, tomatoes, lamb, onion & eggplant. Broil for 5 minutes, turn and brush with marinade, broil additional 5 minutes, turn, marinate, broil another 5 minutes.

Honeyed Carrots

  • 16 oz carrots, sliced (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

saucepan

Add carrots & salt to saucepan with enough water to cover, bring to boil, cover pan and cook until carrots are tender. Drain & remove carrots. Add honey, oil & juice to saucepan, heat until bubbly, add carrots. Cook uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally until carrots are glazed, 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Sautéed Pears

  • 4 Bosc pears, peeled, cored and halved
  • 2 cups real Ginger ale
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

saucepan

Heat pears in ginger ale for about 15 minutes, they should be tender, but firm, add walnuts.

Shopping List:

  • 1 box of Tabbouleh
  • 1 lb lamb, boneless shoulder cut
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1lb cherry tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 lb carrots (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 Bosc pears
  • 16 oz real Ginger ale (or Ginger Beer)
  • 4 oz chopped walnuts

Also: lemon juice (2-3 fresh lemons should do it), olive oil, salt, oregano, pepper, honey

UPDATE:  By request a Tabbouleh recipe, add an additional 2 hours to cooking time if you are going to use it.