Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More Eat Down Meals...

Last night I made those Niman Ranch pork chops, but I decided to try it in the slow cooker instead, using up more of the things I had in my refrigerator, pantry and freezer. I sliced an onion, added a cup of white wine, a bag of cranberries, a quarter cup of butter, a few sprigs of rosemary, a small handful of sugar and salt and pepper and placed it all in the slow cooker, on top of the pork chops. I cooked it on high for about 4 hours. It turned out really well! The 1 year old boy ate a whole entire pork chop, his picky two year old brother ate one bite and their dad ate the rest. I was lucky enough to have been invited to a friend's house for dinner with all of the moms in my playgroup. We had a lovely evening without our kids or husbands around!

Tonight I found a package of chicken sausage in the freezer. I also had a few bags full of various types of bell peppers from my produce CSA. I decided to go the slow cooker route again. This time I cut up a whole bunch of the peppers and a few onions and placed them in the bottom of the slow cooker along with 3 garlic cloves, some thyme, salt and pepper and about a half a cup of red wine (the dregs of a bottle that I had frozen awhile back, rather than throw out). I put the sausage on top and cooked it on low for 8 hours. It turned out pretty well, but not as good as last night. I served it with buttered noodles, peas and pan roasted brussels sprouts. Once again, the baby ate everything in sight, including two helpings of peppers and onions, the two year old ate only noodles and peas, and I ate almost all of the brussels sprouts myself.

I am beginning to be able to see the back of my freezer now, and the produce drawer is nearly empty and ready for tomorrow's delivery. I love Eat Down Week because it forces you to get creative with your cooking, which can be really fun!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Its Eat-Down Week

I spent so much time over the summer accumulating food. I made tons of chicken stock, roasted tomatoes, eggplants, canned green beans and apples, and also bought lots of meat through the meat CSA that I joined. I also froze all of the veggies from my CSA that my family couldn't eat in a given week. As a result my freezer is bursting at the seams, and so is my pantry, due to all of the sauces, jams and jellies I picked up at the farmer's markets over the summer. So I am declaring this week Eat-Down week. Time to eat down all that food.

We kicked off the week with a lunch of Collard Green and Sausage Soup, the result of the leftovers from my husband's birthday dinner in October. For dinner we had pumpkin ravioli from a local deli, with prosciutto (left over from my son's first birthday party) and spinach, topped with parmesan.

Tomorrow I am planning on cooking some Niman Ranch pork chops from my freezer, along with roasted brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce and mashed sweet potatoes. Sound like Thanksgiving without the turkey? I had the stomach flu at Thanksgiving so I am actually not sick of all that food!

Friday, November 9, 2007

All Local First Birthday Party (well, almost)

My younger son turned one today! Hooray! To celebrate we had a delicious local dinner. We started with a fun little appetizer of Humboldt Fog cheese from Cypress Gove ( on Acme baguette topped with blueberry jalapeno jam that I picked up at the farmer's market last spring. It was a fun twist on a family favorite: wheat things, cream cheese and pepper jelly. For dinner I kept it simple, which is often the tastiest way to go anyway. I roasted a Rocky Jr. chicken (, not the very best choice in local chickens, but still local. I made it a la the Thomas Keller recipe in a new cookbook I have called "Last Suppers." It turned out quite well! Along side the chicken I served a salad made from ingredients in my CSA box. By far the most popular part of the dinner was the always delicious roasted brussels sprouts and butternut squash. This is a recipe I got from my mom, and is listed below. Full of butter and sugar so not exactly healthy but tasty nevertheless. For dessert we had an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins. This was the not-so-local part of the meal, but definitely a hit with the baby and his older brother.

Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts

Serves 12
1 Medium butternut squash , peeled and cut into 1” cubes
2 Lbs Brussels sprouts, cut into halves
1 1/2 C brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter cut into 1/2’ cubes
1/2 bunch of sage leaves
1/2 C olive oil
2 T salt
2 t black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees

Mix al ingredients in a bowl, then spread on a large baking dis. Roast uncovered, turning occasionally, until the squash is tender and the brussels sprouts begin to brown..about 25 minutes.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Dark Days Dinner #1

Happy Halloween!

We did our first Dark Days Dinner Challenge dinner for Halloween night. It wasn't anything to fancy, but it was a good healthy dinner to offset all the candy that made its way into our house.

Pumpkin Soup in a pumpkin, an old Julia Child recipe that I found on Saveur's site
Salad w/ radishes, radicchio, arugula, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, onion and parsley, all from my CSA box and the farmer's market
Acme Pain au Levain and an assortment of cheeses

I found this recipe for the soup on It was pretty good, the gruyere and spices were the only not local parts.

1 7-lb. Cinderella pumpkin, with a 2" stem (I couldn't find a local Cinderella pumpkin so I used a Jack O Lantern pumpkin instead)
7 tbsp. butter
1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 1⁄2 cups fresh white bread crumbs, toasted
1⁄2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1⁄2 tsp. ground sage
Freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup grated Swiss cheese
4 cups Chicken Stock
2 bay leaves
1⁄2 cup heavy cream, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cut a lid about 4" in diameter out of top of pumpkin and set lid aside. Remove and discard seeds and strings. Rub inside of pumpkin and lid with 1 tbsp. softened butter, season with salt, and place on a baking pan.

2. Melt remaining 6 tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in bread crumbs and cook for 2 minutes, then add nutmeg and sage and season generously with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, stir in cheese, then spoon mixture into pumpkin. Pour enough stock into pumpkin to come within 1⁄2" of the rim. Lay bay leaves on top, then fit lid onto pumpkin.

3. Bake until pumpkin begins to soften and brown on the outside and the stock bubbles on the inside, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Carefully remove from oven and transfer to a serving platter. With a long-handled spoon, scrape flesh from bottom and sides of pumpkin and, just before serving, stir in heavy cream if using.

It was really good!