Friday, July 29, 2011

Caprese Pasta Salad

Dude, it's hot.   I mean, really.

But it's basil time, and tomato time.  Time to send Sous Chef Brian to three stores to find good mozzarella.  

So this is less, "whoa, here's a recipe for a thing I've never made," or "that's an innovative approach to..." and more, "oh yeah, that one had slipped my mind."

Because who can think?  It's hot. 

4 ounces pasta, boiled, rinsed, cooled.

15 basil leaves, rough chopped.

3/4 pint of cherry tomatoes, sliced.

1 tiny red onion, minced.

2 tablespoons balsamic

1 tablespoon olive oil.

Fresh mozzarella, little balls torn in half.

Pinch of salt.

Three pinches of fresh ground black pepper. 

30 minutes in the fridge. 

Dinner. And Lunch.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Green Beans with Feta and Lemon Vinaigrette

This is a nothing recipe.  That's the chipotle shredded beef from last week, and this is just a quick something to do to your beans before they hit the table.  The lemon heightens the crisp brightness of fresh beans and the feta, well, feta is delicious, and friendly with lemon.

I started with about two cups of fresh beans (flat roma snap beans), cut into one to one-and-a-half inch pieces.   I then steamed them quickly - just 3 or 4 minutes - keeping them crisp.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Agave Lemon/Limeade - spiked or not

My last post was a bit of a bummer. Let's have a drink!

I like lemonade just fine, but limes give it extra depth. But straight limeade is a bit much for me. There's a balance.

CSA 2011 - The "Goods" - Week 8

Seriously. The "goods" is in quotes for a reason.

Last year I got frustrated midseason with the CSA because I thought it was a challenge to use up all the veg, and, as I've mentioned before, I hate beets. It was my first year and the bugs freaked me out. It was buggier than standard farm market veg. It was an adventure and I got tired of it.

This time, with the new farm, it's a different kind of adventure. Will there be enough food? No, you're going back to Whole Foods. Will the food be spoiled? At least some of it. And stone fruit is the new beets. But that's my fault, I chose fruit, somehow imagining it'd all be berries and apples.

I had a disappointing trip to the farm market a few weeks ago, so I get that spoiled veg happens, it's not like it's something exclusive to my CSA, but last year's CSA wasn't like this. I think I'm bitter and sad that I switched farms.

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a sourpuss. That's just my way. But really, I don't want to keep posting my disappointment up here for ya'll. Especially when I'm reading and hearing about my friends' great CSA hauls.

So I'll try to perk it up, at least after this week. I mean really, posting a sad CSA post the day after a baking fail? After this, you should probably go read cuteoverload for a while. But let me gripe a bit first.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Oatmeal Cookie Fail

I say that I don't bake and then take it back when I make bread or crackers.  I can't be trusted with sugar.  That's the thing. Sugar doesn't work for me.  A pinch here or there, sure, but once I'm using a measuring cup, it's all out the window. 

But, I cook all the time, and that gives me this false confidence that I can just handle whatever comes my way in the kitchen.  

So maybe we're on the couch watching the Hulu at 9:30 PM and Sous Chef Brian asks if we have cookies.  No, we don't have cookies because I haven't made any.  I make a pretty mean chocolate chip (I know this is contradicting the above) and I tend to keep the dough in the freezer but there's none on hand.  Sometimes I keep the cookies in the freezer.  But no, nothing.  I offer him frozen blueberries.  

He sighs.  I jump into wife mode.  I will make cookies.  Then he says he doesn't want chocolate chip.  I start rattling off cookie types (none of which do I have a reliable, go-to recipe for).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cucumber Avocado Cilantro Soup

I wouldn't describe myself as someone who's into chilled soup. Soup, to me, is all about warm and cozy, rainy days and winter weekends with a pot going for hours. But I love gazpacho, and that's cold and I love cilantro, and wish it could be soup.

If you Google cucumber avocado soup, you'll find a range of recipes. Some cook the cucumber. Some add cream or yogurt. Some use chicken stock. But I have a blender and don't want to cook.

This took 10 minutes from idea to fridge (let it chill) and 40 minutes from idea to eat. Quick, cool, refreshing. It was, however, not filling. This is one course, not dinner. Do I seem like the sort who makes multiple courses? Eat it with a biscuit.

First, chop some veg.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Chipotle Shredded Beef

Mmm, "barbecue." I realize that posting something with the word barbecue in it that is not cooked outside is particularly sacrilegious in the summer.  And yet here we are.  Braising, not grilling. 

I've posted shredded chicken before.  Shredded beef is a pretty different process.  With chicken, it doesn't matter what you do to cook it, really, season, get it cooked, shred.  Beef is different.  Want tender beef?  Cook it so it's tender.  

I busted out a dutch oven for this.  Stovetop only, which keeps things slightly cooler in the house.  I had some pre-made sauce on hand, which helped, but you can start this with a bottle of sauce, some existing homemade sauce, or make your own sauce for it.  Or take the sauce that I make in this process and make more of it.  Whatever.   In the end, it's barbecue-style chipotle-seasoned shredded beef. Smoky, spicy, sweet. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Whole Wheat Honey Yogurt Biscuits

Well, that's a lot of words, isn't it?  But it's not complicated and totally worth it.  I'm a fan of biscuits.  When I'm driving, it's a serious effort to avoid pulling into some awful fast food place and just buying one.  Barring that sort of weakness (and I can clearly remember a time when I was on the road for work last year and I got one at a Roy Rogers), I don't experience biscuits that I don't make.  I don't know when I'd encounter a biscuit.  Restaurants I go to don't have them, and I'm not frequenting the sort of picnics and backyard parties that have fried chicken and homemade baked beans and biscuits (please invite me to your backyard picnic).  So when there's biscuits, it's because I made them.  Several months ago I made some cheddar biscuits, which were awesome, but this time I was looking for something half-healthy, and a bit less luxurious than the Red Lobster style.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

CSA 2011 - The Goods - Week 7

I think this week's post shows most clearly why I'm still doing a lot of grocery shopping and farm marketing. 

Lettuce.  Two lunch salads worth. 


sorry about the horror movie lighting.   I don't know what happened there. 



Big tomatoes.

Little tomatoes.

Red onions.

White onions.

Can we talk about the eggs?  They're good, fresh, local, bright orange inside happy eggs.  Someone I know well won't eat fresh eggs because of the color - it freaks her out.  I can't imagine - I'm really not looking forward to wintertime grocery-store eggs.  But then, I don't buy raw milk, and I know people who get all excited about that.  Do you have limits on your fresh foods?  Is anything "too fresh" for you?  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dining Out: Loving Hut

Sous Chef Brian and I have a pretty bad habit.  When we go grocery shopping, we often pick up lunch as well.  As though we don't have bags full of food we can make ourselves.   I mean really, there's no excuse.   

There was a 6-month stretch where nearly every Sunday we'd go to Whole Foods and then get Banh Mi Chay samiches, go home, eat, put away groceries, cook.  Now that our favorite samich place is gone, there's a bit more variety.   We tend to eat something halfway healthy, by which I mean, not a hamburger, probably because we're aware of the cart full of vaguely healthy stuff we're not eating.   

So this weekend, standing in line at the grocery store, we started talking about lunch.  Sous Chef Brian suggested Maoz, and I said, yeah that or maybe Loving Hut*.  And for the 14th time, Brian said, "What's Loving Hut?"  And for the 14th time, exasperated, I said, "It's the new-ish vegan fast food place just down the street."  But I mean, I can understand the confusion.  There's a lot of things that Loving Hut might be on South Street.  It's just 3 blocks away from this place, the highlight of every class trip to Philadelphia. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Squash Frittata

I had a lot of squash, and I had a lot of eggs.  So I used the oven.  And it was worth it.

I may be stretching the word frittata here, but "egg casserole" sounds fairly disgusting.  Like something you'd see on The Gallery of Regrettable Food

The thing with me and "frittata" is that I don't have a skillet that goes into the oven.  Basic frittata is eggs with food in it, on the stove til set on the bottom, then into the oven.  When I say, "I made frittata," I either mean, "I made a big omelete," or what you see here.  Eggs, veg, cheese, oven. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Three Cheese Garlic Fennel Pizza

I posted on Facebook that I should rename my blog Fajitas and Salad Dressing, because it feels like that's all I make, but I do make a lot of pizza too.

Speaking of Facebook, are you doing the Google+?  How's it working for you?  I have these high hopes that it can replace everything else on the interwebs.  Rather than follow folks and be followed on Twitter, I can connect with all of those people on G+, and also have my friends, colleagues and family circles, replacing Facebook.  But it's not there yet.  I'm connected to a number of food people on there, and it seems like we're collectively not sure how G+ fits in.   I never set up a Saturday's Mouse Facebook page, but that means that I post links on my regular personal page and get comments and input that other readers don't get to see.  Maybe G+ is the answer.

But what are we supposed to do with it, all have a hangout and knead dough on webcam together?

So for now, I post these things here, and link to them on Twitter, FB, G+... I'm trying to keep the Saturday's Mouse-related content fairly consistent between the three.

Anyhow, I make a lot of pizza, right?  Because pizza is good.   Start with dough.   Also preheat the oven.

I got fennel through the CSA, specifically for pizza.   I'm not into licorice, anise, fennel, etc, but when you saute fennel for just a bit it gets sweet and peppery and loses that love-it-or-hate it intense flavor.   The fennel bulbs were super small - weirdly flat too.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Simple Pico De Gallo

Here's the thing with salsa: there is no recipe.  I don't mean that in the same way like there's no one recipe for barbecue sauce because everyone thinks theirs is the best. I mean that I could write down the recipe this year, and make the same thing next year, and unless I'm in charge of the exact variety and timing of the produce I'm using, it won't be the same. 

Some tomatoes are sweeter than others.  Some jalepenos are hotter.  Some onions sting more.  There's no knowing that it's going to be exactly the same.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

CSA 2011 - The Goods - Week 6

Fruit week is the prettiest week. 

Apricots.   Again.  Let me know if you want them, or if you have a recipe for me, otherwise I'm bringing them to work. 

Blueberries.  Best we've had this year.  Awesome mix of tart and sweet. 

Kale.  Of course.  Because I'm obsessed with kale salad

And regular salad lettuce too.  Green leaf.  Big head.

Tomatoes.  Pretty ones.

And beans.

And I'm being totally spoiled by these onions.  You mean I get good onions with free scallions?  Sign me up.  Oh, I'm already signed up.  Rad.

And misc squashes.   Squash is something we're only getting into the the past three years or so...and two of these are unfamiliar, the light green/white guy and the, what's that, pattypan?  I need guidance.  Tell me about my squash. 

Member choice really eliminates waste (kohlrabi, beets) but there's a bit less adventure.  But seriously, if you can explain my new squashes to me, or tell me how to make pasta sauce out of the apricots, that'd be awesome. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Garlic Shrimp Fajitas

I know I've made fajitas before.  Chicken fajitas. Steak fajitas. But it's not like I just shake the same powdered spices over top of everything and call it a fajita.  So I'm posting the shrimp.

I'll let you in on a secret.  I've never cooked shrimp before.  Here's the thing: I'm pretty weird on meat*.  You've seen me freak out about chicken.  I attribute this to a few years of not eating it.  I'm still torn.  And Sous Chef Brian doesn't do shrimp.  So what am I going to do, buy weird gray shellfish and cook it for myself?  No.  Pass me the grilled cheese, thanks.  But our Mystery Sunday Night Dinner Guest (MSNDG from here on) is meat-oriented.  She doesn't cook much of it, but we go to a restaurant and she's all, "mmmm, pork." And I'm not.  And she's fish-oriented too.  Note the lack of fish recipes here.  I think she's getting tired of me suggesting grilled cheese for dinner.  And so we're talking about what to make for Sunday Dinner and she's all, "shrimp fajitas."  That sounds delicious, but who's going to deal with the shrimp?

Ok, I am.  We are.  It's ok.

I don't have any photos of raw shrimp here.  You don't need that.  But it was easy and you can totally do it yourself, and I'm a wimp and it was delicious.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Kale Salad(s)

Last week when I posted my farmshare haul, I asked for guidance on kale.  All I ever do is overcook it into chips.  About a year ago I used it in burgers (2/3 meat and 1/3 kale) and they were supermoist, but you know, tasted like kale.  

A decade ago I used it in a risotto, but my last risotto reminded me that it was a special occasion food, not something to whip up on a Tuesday night.  So when I put up the post asking for kale ideas, I got some reasonable responses on the Facebook.  Most folks were like, "use garlic, cook hard."  And then Alison was all super-enthusiastic, and wrote a brief love letter to kale.  And one of the things she mentioned was kale salad.  I had heard of massaged kale salad, but I've heard of a lot of things I'm not interested in.  Kale is tough and bitter, and seems to have a bad attitude, so why would I eat it raw?


Damnit, kale salad, why do you have to make me look so foolish?   I've made two kale salads in the past week - we've eaten two big fluffy heads of curly kale in the past week.  There was a time over the long weekend when we were deciding to finally leave the house, and maybe it was 5 pm, and maybe I was still in my jammies, and I was standing in the living room taking a fork to a giant serving bowl full of kale salad.  This is now how I roll.   Kale salad keeps me from getting dressed.

Let's discuss in depth.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

CSA 2011 - The Goods Week Five

Not a super exciting* (or challenging) week on the CSA front. We're still pretty much spending what we normally would in groceries. Last year, with two extra items a week, we were always throwing something out. Now, we're always out of something. Lettuce. Onions. And it's just not enough veg for two people who eat a lot of veg. I don't know where the balance is.

This week we got both cucumbers...

and zucchini...

and it got exciting when I asked Sous Chef Brian to cut up cucumber into a green salad while I worked on a pasta salad. So yeah, now I have some cut up zucchini in the freezer.

We got two kinds of lettuce, red leaf and green.

And two small bulbs of fennel, with a lot of frond. I looked it up. I was like (in the Google) "fennel leaves" "fennel greens" and then yeah, "fronds."

And cippolini onions.

And eggs.

So I'm making a pasta salad, with grilled zucchini, frozen corn (yeah, I said it), beans, jalepeno and tomato, with a honey/lime/cilantro vinaigrette. And a simple green salad - lettuce, cucumber, celery, etc.

And I'll use some of the cucumber with tonight's falafel (this recipe). And the fennel is for white fennel pizza, which is awesome.

I'm also marinating up some carrot and daikon for banh mi, but that's not using any of this.

I'm ALWAYS looking for egg ideas. If I weren't so yolk-averse I'd make these scrambled eggs in shell. I'm a full dozen behind and I just haven't felt like facing an egg-based dish (frittata, quiche, strata, etc).

Also, any ideas on the fennel fronds? The interwebs say I can use them "as an herb" which is great and all, but any further guidance would be welcomed. I'm not really into anise flavor.

*not to worry, happy people. I have a very upbeat post planned for tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


When I said soup season was over for me, I really meant it.  It's hot.  It's too hot for soup. Or pasta.  Too hot for any kind of a sauce.  It's salted radishes, hunk of cheese, piece of bread season.  

But then there's gazpacho.  Gazpacho is all the brightest and crispest flavors of Spanish and Latin American food with none of the heaviness.  It's not just cold, it's raw.  Like all soups, and most other things I cook, it's customizable.  Extra spicy? Sure thing. More of this flavor and less of that one?  Go for it.  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ginger Peanut Salad Dressing

Look, there's not a lot about the salad-dressing-making-process that looks good in pictures.

"Ooh, look how emulsified it is!"

And I could go through every bowl in the house dividing up my ingredients to photograph them, but then I'd have dishes to do. And that's one thing I never photograph and share with ya'll: the piles of dishes that accumulate. You see, back in the day we had a fairly easy "you cook you don't clean" rule, so I cooked and Sous Chef Brian did the dishes. Now it's not so easy. Usually, when he's around, he's cooking with me. And there's no one else to do the dishes. My cat Sabrina is polydactyl, and we've tried to get her involved, but just having thumbs doesn't mean you're going to be on top of the housework. I know, because I have thumbs too.

So instead of pretty little bowls with impossibly measured-out ingredients, you get a bunch of stuff crammed in a jar. Seriously. Scroll down if you don't believe me.

All of this is to let you know, I know that the pictures I'm about to show you aren't appetizing. Here's the problem. You NEED to make this dressing. I could tell you in text, but that's what recipe cards are for. What am I, a recipe card? No. The reality is, I have no clue how much of whatever goes into a dish until it's done. Setting up "in advance" is a lie. Bear with me here, and make this dressing.

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