Thursday Night Menu: Farm Stand Edition

Photo: Rebecca Hallas

Time to start the Farmer Stand editions of Thursday Night Menu.  Most of the produce tonight can be found locally.  So if you haven’t visited your local farm stand or farmer’s market, now’s your chance. I went to a local stand this past weekend and was surprised how small the tomato selection was. I shouldn’t have been, since my tomato plants, which are usually bent over with red fruit by now, are host to medium-sized green tomatoes which are slowly ripening.

I bought a few things and experimented with varieties of peppers I’d never even seen before. Some I really liked, some had surprisingly little flavor, though they smelled wonderful, it didn’t translate to the flesh.

Peach season is in full swing in Colorado, so we have sliced peaches tonight and hopefully if things slow down a bit for me, a week’s worth of peach inspired recipes all next week. My plan is to head to another farm stand this weekend and stock up on peachy goodness.

On the board tonight:

  1. Basil Grilled Chicken
  2. Marinated Potatoes
  3. Yellow Summer Squash
  4. Sliced Peaches

Basil Grilled Chicken – marinate overnight

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 to 6 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup white wine (non-alcoholic ok)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic

zip-lock bag or sealed container

Wrap one breast in plastic and pound with flat side of meat tenderizer. Repeat with each breast. In zip-lock bag, add all ingredients and marinate overnight. Remove chicken from marinade and grill, approximately 15 minutes for each side, until cooked through. Don’t let dry out – sear 5-minutes each side, then move away from direct flame for remainder of cooking time.

Marinated Potatoes

  • 6 to 8 small red potatoes, scrubbed & quartered
  • 1 cup Italian dressing
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped chives

saucepan

In saucepan boil potatoes until tender (about 20 minutes). Drain well. Toss with remaining ingredients, serve hot or chilled.

Shopping List:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 to 6 basil leaves
  • 8 oz white wine
  • 6 to 8 small red potatoes
  • 8 oz Italian dressing (I really like Newman’s Own)
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 bunch fresh chives
  • 2 to 4 small to medium yellow summer squash
  • 4 to 6 fresh peaches

Also: crushed garlic, dried oregano, salt, pepper

More Tomato Goodness

I dried two baking sheets worth of tomatoes today, and the romas that were excess I boiled down for a sauce.  I packed the dried romas away in a jar with olive oil and garlic and was dithering over the dried regular tomatoes.  By this time the sauce on the stove was getting very thick, and there wasn’t enough to jar.  Oh well.  Decided to just gobble everything down tonight for dinner.

Sauted some Italian sausage, sliced garlic, and some onions.  I chopped up the dried tomatoes and tossed them in the pan, too.  Wasn’t too sure how to handle them but this seemed to work.  Sliced up some mushrooms and added those, and some fresh basil leaves from the container herb garden.  More onions.  This was starting to look good.  Dumped in the tomato sauce I had reduced to nearly a tomato paste.  Reduced the heat and covered that while the pasta finished.  The tomato sauce was looking too thick so I added some white wine.  Dumped the pasta atop it all when it was drained.

Plated the pasta and sprinkled some chopped basil over it, grated some parmesan and romano, and served it with some garlic bread.  Yummy

Enjoy!

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Roasted Leg of Lamb

Went with the overnight marinade.  Good call.  I was hoping to use the reduced marinade for a dipping sauce/gravy but it proved to be too strong flavored for that.  I did use some of it in the gravy made from the pan drippings.  Made a beurre blanc sauce for the steamed veggies.  Modified it from the classic recipe with a bit of lemon juice and some parsley.  Basic sauce is diced shallots in a white wine reduction with butter slowly stirred in.  I went with the shallots and wine and added some lemon juice, then some dried parsley.

The marinade was one cup white wine, one half cup orange juice, the juice and zest of one lemon, chopped fresh rosemary, a tablespoon of dried thyme, two tablespoons of olive oil, two tablespoons of dijon mustard, two tablespoons of honey, salt and pepper, and several cloves of minced garlic.

I started the lamb in a 450 oven for 30 minutes, then reduced the heat to 325 until the internal temps reached 145.  Took another hour or so.  You can go with whatever internal temp suits your taste.  Mrs J abhors bloody meat, I’m more tolerant.  145-150 degrees will yield some med rare to medium well done, depending on where you slice it, and seemed a decent compromise for us.  Lots of pics.

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Thursday Night Menu: Springtime Edition

It has been an interesting week. Very glad it’s almost over. We’ve swung between sunny spring weather and rainy spring weather. Both are welcome. So tonight’s menu features a primavera. Which is Italian for springtime. The carrot cake is not what you’d expect, it is a fruity, light confection with a definite spring touch.  Bon appetite!

On the board tonight:

  1. Chicken Primavera
  2. Carrot Cake

Chicken Primavera

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts, cubed in large pieces
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz sliced carrots
  • 8 oz broccoli crowns
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, sliced
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed or ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • ¾ cup chicken broth or equivalent
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 oz grated parmesan
  • 9 oz fresh linguine

skillet, large saucepan

Sprinkle salt & pepper over chicken pieces. Heat oil in skillet, add chicken and saute for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, until golden on all sides. Add carrots, broccoli and squash, and stir for 2 minutes. Add basil, garlic, tomatoes. Stir additional 2 minutes. Remove mixture to bowl. Add chicken broth and wine to skillet, deglaze drippings, bring to a boil, reduce heat, add chicken mixture, toss and cover. Reduce heat to low and let simmer while pasta cooks. Bring water to boil in saucepan and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain very well and toss with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.

Carrot Cake

  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Frosting:

  • 1 ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

2 bowls, 8×8 baking dish, well greased

Preheat oven to 350°

In a large bowl, combine grated carrots, flour, white sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in egg, oil, vanilla, pineapple and pecans. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, except nuts. Beat until smooth. Spread on cooled cake and garnish with pecans.

Shopping List:

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 8 oz sliced carrots
  • 8 oz broccoli crowns
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, sliced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • ¾ cup chicken broth or equivalent
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 oz grated parmesan
  • 9 oz fresh linguine
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Also: salt, pepper, olive oil, vanilla, butter, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, garlic, basil,

Mmm…fish with veggies and rice

This was the easiest part of an overall easy dinner.  Bake the fish in a 350 oven on a foil wrapped baking sheet after brushing melted dill butter on both sides.  Flip ’em over part way through, took less than ten minutes.

The risotto took the longest, you’ll want to start it first.  Butter and olive oil in a pan, add the rice and stir until it wants to brown, then pour in some white wine.  Cook and stir as it absorbs, then add chicken stock a bit at a time, stir, add more stock, add the mushrooms (these came out of a can).  Pretty soon you can cover and let the rice soak up the remaining stock, turn the heat way down or off.

The veggies were a tad more involved.  Start with olive oil in a large pan, the zest of a lemon, some diced onions and minced garlic and heat them until the aroma comes out, add the veggies and stir about, maybe add some more oil.  When they get good and hot add a half cup of chicken stock and cover, turn the heat down to medium.  In about five minutes or when they are done enough for you, remove the veggies to a serving dish and add some butter to the hot pan, stir in the juice of a lemon and some chopped fresh parsley.  When it is cooked down a bit pour the lemon butter over the veggies in the dish.

Enjoy!

Chicken breasts in a wine sauce–Cheese stuffed pasta shells

I had a few shells left from a previous dinner, and some thawed chicken breasts so I decided to use them up.  First the stuffed shells.  Boil the pasta as directed and then cool them under running water.  Stuff the shells with the cheese mixture and douse with your tomato sauce.  Cook the shells in a 350 oven for half an hour, then sprinkle on some mozzarella and parmesan and heat for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese browns on top.

The cheese mixture was just plain ricotta, I started with about one and a half pounds and added garlic and onion  powders, and dried herbs: basil, parsley, and oregano.  I didn’t add an egg or any other cheeses because I knew I didn’t have shells enough. (I had a 1lb-14oz container, sure enough I needed only just over half.)

The tomato sauce was simple too: onions sauteed in olive oil, some minced garlic added when the onions were about ready, and a can each of diced tomatoes and puree.  Mix in the usual dried herbs: I used basil, oregano, and a few small bay leaves.  Simmer it all while you stuff the shells.After removing the casserole from the oven, let it sit for 10-15 minutes.Back to the chicken.  Pound the breasts flat between layers of plastic wrap, dredge them in seasoned flour, and cook them in olive oil and butter over medium heat until they are browned on both sides. Cover and simmer until the chicken is done then remove the chicken to finish the sauce. Add white wine (and that half cup of Marsala I had left), maybe two cups or so, and whisk in an uncooked roux (flour and butter all smooshed together). When it looks right add the chicken back–to keep every thing warm cover until you are ready to plate the mealYou are better than I am if you can get things to finish all at the same time, not a problem with this meal.Plate it with some parsley garnish, and some toasted garlic bread sprinkled with Parmesan.

Enjoy!

A simple salad

so easy to make, and yum!

While your pan is warming, cube some bread.  Add olive oil and a few pats of butter to the pan, when it’s pretty warm toss in the bread.  You’ll be adding more butter and oil as the bread soaks up The Tasty, slice a bit of garlic and toss it in there, wait till the bread is on the way or the garlic will char.

make a dressing

Add to a dab of mustard some wine vinegar, then whisk in some good olive oil.  I used honey mustard for this, Dijon will work, whatever you like.  A dash of salt and a few grinds of pepper and it is ready.

a few red onions and those croutons you made

Good thing you didn’t eat all those croutons, eh?  LOL