Monthly Archives: July 2010

Sausage-Stuffed Squash

There are two failproof ways to dress up a food item that you are either not so fond of or are tired of eating. One involves covering the item in question with cheese. The other, invariably, involves sausage.

Now, I like squash. A lot. But we have eaten a lot of it this summer, and so I decided to come up with a fun way to dress it up. I combined sweet turkey Italian sausage with bell peppers, arugula, garlic, and fennel seed, added some jarred pasta sauce, and voila! We had epic stuffed squash. If you have any leftover sauce after stuffing your squash, save it to top spaghetti.

After the squash finished baking, I spotted some Pure Luck parsley and garlic chevre (which you can buy from Greenling) in the fridge and dotted our servings with it. It turned out to be a great final touch — just added a bit of tanginess to the sweet sauce. I’m listing the chevre as an optional ingredient, but I highly recommend it if you have some lying around.

Sausage-Stuffed Squash

4 summer squash (I used two 8-ball and two yellow)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 bell peppers, finely chopped
1 bunch arugula, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
20 oz pkg sweet turkey Italian sausage
1 tbsp fennel (anise) seed
24 oz jar pasta sauce (I used Classico Tomato Basil)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chevre (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tops off of the 8-ball squash and scoop out the innards, leaving a thin rind. Halve the yellow squash and do the same. Be sure to get all of the seeds.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Remove sausage from casing and add to skillet, stirring to crumble. Add peppers, garlic, arugula, and fennel seed. Cook 10-15 minutes, until sausage is browned, veggies are tender, and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add pasta sauce and cook another 5 minutes or so, until heated through.

Using a small spoon, fill squash with sauce. Bake for 25 minutes, until squash is tender. Dot with crumbled chevre, if using.

Local Box Meal Plan: July 26-30

This week, we are getting:

Eggplant – Animal Farm
Arugula or Sorrel – Bluebonnet
Fresh Lady Cream Peas – Just Peachy Farm
Tomatoes – Acadian
Texas Wild Grapes – My Father’s Farm
Butternut Squash – Massey
Peaches – Caskey
Curly Mustard – Texas Natural
Mixed Squash – Texas Natural
Cucumber – Acadian or Tecolote

So, I am making:

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

Whole Wheat Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage, Mustard Greens and Tomato Cream Sauce – Chop up your fresh tomatoes to use in place of the canned one in this recipe.

Eggplant-Squash Bake

Macaroni Garden Salad – A yummy take on traditional macaroni salad. I’m going to sub a mixture of Greek yogurt and sour cream for the mayo, and I’ll serve as a side to grilled chicken. Simmer your fresh peas for about 10 minutes to cook, and use instead of the canned peas called for here.

The peaches and grapes I’ll just eat out of hand. We very rarely see local grapes, and I just want to enjoy their fresh taste without cooking them.

Egg Casserole with Roasted Peppers, Roasted Tomatoes, and Feta

Do you ever get in a breakfast rut? I do, often. In fact, it’s the meal at which I’m most likely to repeat the same foods over and over again. We’re talking months in a row of oatmeal. It gets old.

This casserole will add some variety to your breakfast routine. Roasted peppers and tomatoes combine with oregano and feta cheese for a combination of flavors not usually found on the breakfast table. Try this casserole on a weekend, as it takes a little while to prepare. It would be a great addition to a brunch spread. I made this one on a Sunday evening and reheated portions throughout the week.

Egg Casserole with Roasted Peppers, Roasted Tomatoes, and Feta (adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen)

2 cups sweet peppers, such as banana or bell, cut into strips or sliced into rings
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes (or halved cherry tomatoes)
1/2 bunch garlic chives or green onions, chopped
3/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese
10 eggs
1 tsp. lemon pepper
salt to taste

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 375 degrees. Spray a square baking dish with nonstick spray, or rub with olive oil.

Place peppers into baking dish, sprinkle with oregano, and roast for 10 minutes.

Break eggs into a bowl and beat until egg yolks and whites are well combined. Season eggs with lemon pepper and salt, and stir in chives.

After peppers roast for 10 minutes, add tomatoes and stir to combine. Put dish back in oven and roast 15 minutes more, or until tomatoes start to look slightly shriveled.

Sprinkle feta cheese over roasted peppers and tomatoes, then pour beaten eggs over. Return pan to oven and cook for 25-28 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and eggs are set. (It will puff up a bit when it cooks, but after it cools for a few minutes the casserole will settle.) Serve hot.

Local Box Meal Plan: July 19-23

This week, we are getting:

Fresh pinto beans – Just Peachy
Lentil sprouts – Groovy Greens
Figs – Oasis Gardens
Blueberries – Berry Best Farm
Bibb lettuce – Bella Verde
Peppers – Comanche Farm
Key limes – G&S Groves
Squash – Massey
Personal watermelon – Massey
Cucumbers – Acadian
Eggplant – Tecolote

I am making:

Watermelon – Blueberry Salad with Feta – The original doesn’t use blueberries, but I think they’d be fantastic here, especially with the key lime juice.

Prosciutto-wrapped figs – Recipe to come in the handout in your Local Box.

Pesto vegetable tart – To roast peppers, put them under the broiler for about 15 minutes, turning halfway through, until the skins are blackened. Put them in a ziplock bag and let them sit for 10 minutes. When you remove them, the skins will peel right off, and they’ll be easy to de-seed. I’m going to roast all of the peppers and use some here and the rest on sandwiches and salads.

Turkey-cream cheese sandwiches – Spread two slices of hearty bread, like ciabatta, with garden vegetable cream cheese. Top one sliced with turkey, sliced cucumbers, lettuce, sprouts, and some of those peppers you roasted for the above recipe. You could even press it in a panini press or in a cast iron skillet for a warm sandwich.

Basic pinto beans – These have a wonderfully creamy taste and texture, so I want to let their flavor shine by not doing much to them. Simmer about 10 minutes in chicken (or vegetable) broth and season with salt and pepper.

Simple Potato Packets

These little guys are incredibly easy to put together – so easy that they are perfect if you happen to be looking for ways to get your kids engaged in the cooking process. Here’s my little helper putting potatoes in a bowl:

I usually pull up a chair for him to stand on while I prep ingredients. He knows that only adults can touch knives, and reminds me each time I use one that they are “very very sharp” and can “give you owies.” Once I’ve chopped everything up, I let him put ingredients into a bowl and/or stir them together. For this recipe, which involves dividing the potato mixture into four parts and putting each part into its own foil packet, I also let him spoon the mixture onto each piece of foil, sprinkle with parsley, and put a dab of butter on top.

Sure, maybe he insisted on putting one potato piece at a time into each packet. And maybe it took much longer than if I had done it myself. But he loves cooking, and I love that he is excited about it. Plus, it’s nice to be able to channel some of that toddler “I do it!” mentality into something constructive.

Anyway, this recipe only uses a few ingredients and is easily customizable. I used parsley because I had some, but I’m thinking a rosemary/thyme combo would taste great. If you have some of those individual foil sheets (like these), they work perfectly here. If not, use pieces about 12″x12″ so that you have ample room for the potato mixture.

Simple Potato Packets

1 lb roasting potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used purple potatoes, but red ones would be perfect, too)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
4 tsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine potatoes, garlic, bell pepper, and green onions in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Place 1/4 of the mixture onto each of four foil sheets. Top each with a sprinkle of parsley and teaspoon of butter. Draw up the sides of each foil piece and pinch at the top to create a packet. Place on a baking sheet and cook about 25 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Local Box Meal Plan: July 12-16

The first delicious figs of the season are here this week, from Orange Blossom Farms, along with:

Parsley – Tecolote
Garlic chives – Tecolote
Canteloupe – Orange Blossom Farm
Plums – Orange Blossom Farm
Speckled lima beans – Just Peachy Farm
Banana peppers – Rimrock Farm
Butternut squash – Massey
Cherry tomatoes – Acadian
Curly mustard – Texas Naturals

This is sort of a motley crew of produce, which is why a few of these recipes only use one local box ingredient (but the rest of the ingredients in the recipes are cheap and easy to get). I’ll be making:

Sauteed lima beans and cherry tomatoes – Boil lima beans 10 minutes or until tender, then drain. While they’re cooking, slice cherry tomatoes in half. Heat a little olive oil in a skillet, and add a handful of chopped chives. Cook about a minute or so, until fragrant. Add beans and tomatoes and sautee a few minutes until the tomatoes start to soften and brown. Remove from heat and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Fig and blue cheese-stuffed pork tenderloin – Much easier than it sounds. This recipe only has four ingredients (besides salt, pepper, and cooking spray) and cooks in 20 minutes. If you don’t have a mallet to pound out the pork, use a rolling pin instead. You can also skip all the fuss of rolling up and tying the pork by just folding one half over the other once you’ve spread the stuffing. Use 1 cup of fresh figs in place of the dried.

White bean soup with ham and mustard greens

Canteloupe-plum salad – Toss cut-up plums and canteloupe with a bottled poppyseed dressing for an easy fruit salad. Some chopped mint would be a great addition.

Pork and butternut squash stir-fry – The original says to use Chinese black vinegar, but you can sub balsamic if you don’t feel like making a trip to your nearest Asian grocer.

I’m going to use sliced banana peppers in sandwiches and salads for this week’s lunches, but these stuffed banana peppers look tasty.

Cucumber-Basil Mojito

A few years back, Mason and I went to a Christmas party where the host served some fantastic, slightly sweet cucumber martinis. Ever since, I’ve been a big fan of cucumber in drinks. When I came up with the idea of a cucumber-basil mojito the other day, I thought I was so frickin’ brilliant. A twist on the classic rum drink, adding cucumber and using basil instead of the traditional mint? Surely no one else had come up with the same concept.

Alas, my claim to booze brilliance was short-lived. A few Google searches revealed that I was not, sadly, the first person to come up with this idea. I didn’t like any one of them in its entirety though, and some had no mojito-like qualities at all, like the one that used gin and lemon juice. What? Anyway, I adapted several recipes to come up with my own version, which Mason and I both agree is quite tasty. For a non-alcoholic drink, try using lemon-lime soda instead of the rum.

Cucumber-Basil Mojito

6 basil leaves, roughly chopped
5 1-inch pieces of peeled cucumber, one of which is finely diced*
3 tsp simple syrup (or finely granulated sugar)
2.5 oz dark rum (anyone who tells you that a mojito must contain light rum is a liar, but feel free to use it if you prefer)
Splash of lime juice
Splash of club soda
Slice of cucumber, for garnish

Put basil and syrup or sugar in the bottom of a glass. Muddle the basil with the back of a spoon or the side of a measuring cup — you just want to bruise it to release its flavor. Fill the glass with ice and add rum, lime juice, cucumber, and soda. Stir to blend, and garnish with a cucumber slice. Makes 1 drink.

*I like how the drink looks with both chunks and small pieces of cuke floating around. Also, finely dicing one of the pieces releases a little more cucumber flavor into the drink.