Monday, June 28, 2010

Weekend Appetizers

This spread was the perfect way to use the fresh radishes from my CSA box.  Feta, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, and radishes pulsed in the food processor - simple and tasty!  I loved this!

Crisped-Prosciutto and Avocado Crostini

My latest addiction is manchego cheese - I just love to eat it with my other addiction - olives!  This crostini was great.  It is hard to go wrong with creamy avocado, salty prosciutto, and manchego on crostini.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pork Tenderloin Tacos

I have been trying hard to find great uses for all of my CSA items.  Each week I have received radishes - a vegetable that I had only eaten occasionally in the past.  They really are quite delicious fresh.  So how to use the last few radishes in this week's box? 

Weeknight meals have to be pretty quick and simple after a long day at work and the commute home.  I had a pork tenderloin which I love - versatile, quick cooking, and delicious.  I also like spice rubs because they have the ability to flavor meat so much more quickly than a marinade.  So I decided to make pork tenderloin tacos and use the radishes in a salsa - this is what I came up with adapted from this Cooking Light recipe -

Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

1 1lb. pork tenderloin cut into strips
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all spices and coat the pork tenderloin evenly.   Sautee the pork in a lightly oiled nonstick skillet until just done. 

Black Bean, Corn, and Radish Salsa

1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped radishes
1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all salsa ingredients and chill until ready to serve. 

Serve the pork tenderloin in warmed corn tortillas with the salsa and your favorite guacamole.  These tacos were healthy and delicious!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Quiche

I thought that I had found most working farms within a hundred miles of home, but it looks like I missed one right under my nose. I saw this post on Serious Eats for fresh eggs in Howell, NJ, and of course I had to head out there as soon as possible. I know that NJ is often the butt of jokes, but it really is a beautiful state filled with lots of gorgeous farmland. The farm in the post is Iceberg Farms, which is only 6.2 miles away from my home but well off the beaten path. It may only be a few miles away, but it is worlds away from my suburban shore community. The farmer, Bill, was so nice and accommodating. He gathered my eggs while I waited with his three canine friends and watched chickens run about. The eggs were a mere $2.50 per dozen and fresh as can be. I am looking forward to trying some of Bill's honey, produce, and fresh berries as well.

It is still super busy at work, and weeknight dinners have been a challenge to pull off at a decent time. On Monday, in honor of “meatless Monday,” I made an asparagus and goat cheese quiche. I was armed with fresh eggs, asparagus, and scallions from my CSA box, goat cheese from Costco, and a frozen Trader Joe's pie crust. I put this together in minutes and popped it into the toaster oven since it was so hot and I didn't want to heat up the whole house. I served it with a side of sautéed kohlrabi greens - also from my CSA box. The meal was quick, healthy, and delicious. I am a fan of kohlrabi greens - who knew? That is what is great about the CSA- I get to try new things that I ordinarily would not have. Delicious!

Quiche Filling

3 eggs well beaten
3 thinly sliced green onions
1 & ½ cups whole milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup steamed asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
6 oz. fresh goat cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Add the asparagus to the pie crust and add dollops of the goat cheese.  Combine all other ingredients.  Pour the custard mixture over top and bake until set.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cailyn's (and Martha Stewart's) Strawberry Cake

I am not much of a cake person but this cake that my daughter Cailyn made was incredible!   She had friends coming over and wanted to make dessert.  We had beautiful fresh strawberries from our CSA box and she had seen this recipe on Martha Stewart's website.  I can't believe how fast that she put this together.  So simple and it came out moist and so delicious.  In the reviews, a commenter described this cake as "tastes like a cross between light, fluffy angel food cake and buttery pound cake - just the right density."   I would agree and it is not overly sweet.  The fresh berries are so good .  She served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream - perfect dessert!   We loved it so much that she made it again!  The only 10 inch pan that we had was a springform pan and it worked out well. 

Have a great weekend!  Happy Father's Day to the dads! 


Makes one 10-inch cake

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pie plate
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch pie plate. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.

2.Put butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low; mix in egg, milk, and vanilla.

3.Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Transfer batter to buttered pie plate. Arrange strawberries on top of batter, cut sides down and as close together as possible. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

4.Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool in pie plate on a wire rack. Cut into wedges. Cake can be stored at room temperature, loosely covered, up to 2 days.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Weekend Festivals - Part II

New Jersey Seafood Festival - Belmar, NJ

Tens of thousands of people attend the wildly popular annual seafood festival in Belmar.  I wasn't sure that I wanted to go this year since it is always so crowded and finding parking is a pain.  It is also the first year in a while that one of my daughters was not working at the Key Club lemonade stand.  My younger daughter graduated from high school last week from the parochial school in Belmar.  I am so proud of her but I am still a little sad to say goodbye to the high school years.  *Sigh*   

Well, late on Sunday it began to rain lightly and I decided that I wanted to stop by the festival.  The crowd had thinned out a lot due to the rain and we got a close parking spot.  The sun came back out and it was just perfect.   My husband and I shared a tilapia wrap from 10th Avenue Burrito - delicious!  We also got 20 shrimp for $5.00 (from Klein's) and $10.00 lobster dinners (from Mr. Shrimp) (1 1/4 lb. lobster, drawn butter, and corn on the cob) which we brought home and ate with our daughters.  I visited my favorite local establishments only but everything looked tempting - and no I did not eat a fried Oreo! 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Weekend Festivals - Part I

33rd Annual Kimisis Tis Theotokou Greek Festival
Holmdel, NJ
Souvlaki - $6.00

Grilled Chicken Pita - $6.00

Delicious Desserts starting at $1.00

It was an absolute picture perfect day on Saturday here in New Jersey.  We relaxed at the beach and then headed over to a nearby Greek festival.  We sampled the souvlaki, the grilled chicken pita, loukoumades (6 for $3.00), and galaktoboureko ($3.00).  There were also salads, dolmades, spanakopites, gyros, keftedes, pastisio, moussaka, and more.  The quality of the food was just great and the prices were very reasonable.  Everything was homemade and just delicious.  We also enjoyed the festive music and traditional dancing.  Local festivals are a fun way to sample different types of cuisine and support a local church without breaking the bank. I found a listing of Greek festivals across the US - Opa!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

CSA Mizuna with Indian Spiced Chickpeas

Well this was an especially rough week at work, as our biggest deadline of the year is June 15th.  The earliest we ate dinner was 9pm.  No natural daylight left even on one of the longest days of the year as evidenced in the photos!  As late as I may get dinner on the table, I prefer home cooking to takeout especially when I have beautiful CSA ingredients to use. 

I received another huge bunch of mizuna in my CSA box that I was determined to put to good use.  This is an ingredient that I had not previously used so I have been doing some experimenting.  I made it with orecchiette and sausage which was good but my family prefers broccoli rabe.  I also have added the mizuna to salads and made a stir fry.  My very favorite use for mizuna was added to Indian Spiced Chickpeas - so delicious!  I served the chickpeas as a side with Martha Stewart's Indian Spiced Chicken burgers (from Everday Food: Great Food Fast) on garlic naan but this could easily be a vegetarian main course.  I had the leftovers for lunch the next day.  Perfect! 

Indian Spiced Chickpeas
Adapted from

2 cans chickpeas – drained and rinsed
¼ c oil
1 c finely-diced onion
1 inch finely minced peeled ginger root
4 cloves minced garlic
1 t turmeric
1 t ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
1 t salt
1 chopped jalapeno – seeded and diced
1 14.5 oz. canned diced tomatoes - drained
2 T lemon juice
1/2 c water
3 cups coarsely chopped mizuna
1 c yogurt
1 c fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

Add the oil to a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions until softened. Next add the garlic, ginger, jalapeno and spices and cook for about a minute. Next add the chickpeas, tomatoes, lemon juice and water. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the mizuna and cook until wilted. Lastly stir in the yogurt and chopped cilantro.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Weekend Eats at the Jersey Shore - Crab Shack Brick, NJ

I love this time of year and I love eating outside on the patio - sans the annoying flies!  This weekend we enjoyed some local seafood - steamed crabs and grilled clams.  We got the crabs already steamed and seasoned from The Crab Shack in Brick, NJ.  The place is really a shack as its name implies but has some great local crabs and other seafood at reasonable prices.  I find it charming that you can dine at wooden tables right next to big bushels of live crabs!  We also picked up a couple of dozen little neck clans to grill up.  I love that the clams tell you when they are done.  Simply place them on a hot grill and once they open up, they are done - no guesswork involved.  Serve them with a little drawn butter and enjoy!  The crabs are a little messy and involve a little work, but are so good. 

I  also made homemade barbecued pulled pork sandwiches for the first time and they were just delicious.  I may insult Southerners who can make great traditional pulled pork but I was happy with the results.   I bought a boneless pork shoulder, brined it overnight (in a Ziploc), then seasoned it with a dry spice rub, popped it in  the crock pot with Emeril's wet mop sauce and after six hours on low we had perfect crumbly and delicious pork.  The weather was so hot, that it was nice to use the crock pot and not heat up the whole kitchen.  I mixed the pulled pork with Hoboken Eddie's barbecue sauce and served it on a roll topped with coleslaw.  As much as we had of the pork, it sure disappeared fast!  Delicious! 

The dry rub and brine solution are from the blog  Thank you!
Dry Rub
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar

Brine Solution (I halved the recipe)

1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 qts cold water
1 1/2 tbsp dry rub mix
1 bay leaf

Friday, June 4, 2010

Eureka! Farm Fresh Eggs in Monmouth County, NJ

Eggs fresh from a farm are so good!  If you buy supermarket eggs please do yourself a favor and try them from a local farm or farmers market.  You won't be sorry!  The yolks are a deep yellow, and the taste and texture are great.   I used to travel quite far to buy fresh eggs but just discovered a farm right on my way home from work on Red Hill Road in Middletown, NJ.  There is a small, hand painted sign on the side of the road just past the entrance to the Parkway South.  I love traveling back roads - you never know what you will find! 

For years, many have been foregoing the delicious yolks in eggs, hence the ever popular egg white omelets.  I recently read an interesting article in Cooking Light which relieves any guilt associated with enjoying whole eggs.  Eggs are so versatile, nutritious, and delicious - perfect for a meatless Monday! 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Random CSA Box Recipes and a Duck Rescue

Well, I really enjoyed my first week of CSA vegetables.  Tonight I get to put the box out on the porch for week 2.  I am so excited to see what I'll receive.  Below are a couple of the ways that I prepared the vegetables this week.  I  also made a delicious stir fry with the mizuna but it was too dark for good pictures.   

This was such a light, refreshing, and healthful salad.  I had the leftovers for lunch today - delicious! 

Strawberry Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
CSA spring mix, almonds, feta, and fresh strawberries

My daughter Cailyn's favorite salad dressing:

Honey Balsamic Dressing


1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce


Whisk together the vinegar, honey, olive oil, and soy sauce until the honey has dissolved, and the dressing is smooth.
We had some unexpected Memorial Day guests in our pool.
Don't worry!  My husband Matt rescued all of the baby ducks.