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In the Kitchen

CSA Saturday

July 25, 2015
All of the beautiful produce that came in my CSA box

It’s been an excellent seven days in the kitchen, and I’m so excited to share my CSA-inspired meal ideas of the week with you today on this lovely CSA Saturday. Last Saturday’s box came packed to the gills with plums, tomatoes, green beans, red onions, jalapeños, a cantaloupe, and an Armenian cucumber. Many of these are repeat visitors as you may recall from previous CSA Saturdays, but I like to keep things fresh and exciting so read on to see what new things I made with them this week!

Let’s break it down.


I had big plans for this cucumber. He was going to get cooked (cooked!) with honey and rice vinegar and other exciting flavors. And then I ate him raw instead, without doing a single fancy cooking thing. I’m a barbarian like that.

Plums, Melon

Melon and Plum Salad

Juicy ripe cantaloupe and crimson plums played nicely with fig wedges and slices of the tiny tart apples I picked during an excursion to the Taylor Street Farm in San Jose this past Sunday. This tiny, tucked away urban farm is located practically beneath the 87 freeway exit for Taylor Street in San Jose. It’s a joy to wander around in– a tiny oasis in the city– and even has a U-Pick option for families who want to stop by and snag some local veggies and show the kids how food is grown. I couldn’t have made this tasty little fruit salad breakfast bowl without ’em! Of course, the melon and plums helped too.

Green Beans

Glazing the Beans

I recently picked up a copy of one of my favorite food & garden blogger’s cookbooks, and found myself cooking my way through several of her recipes this week, with a few tweaks and edits of my own (I can’t help myself! I’m a tinkerer.) These lovely balsamic-glazed green beans came from The CSA Cookbook by Linda Ly. I have to say, I’m a huge fan! Both of the beans, and the book. If you’ve enjoyed my CSA Saturday series, you will definitely enjoy her cookbook, which focuses on how to use all of a garden’s bounty, including some of the underutilized and under-appreciated parts of plants, like tomato leaves and watermelon rind, both of which are totally edible! Who knew?

Balsamic Roasted Green Beans

Slicing Tomatoes

My tomatoes were so ripe when they arrived this week that some of them were already starting to split and run by Sunday, which meant I needed to use them ASAP! I sliced up the ripest of the lot and cooked them in a galette with the last of my homemade (frozen) pesto from my very first CSA box, three weeks ago. This recipe was also inspired by the CSA Cookbook. My main innovation was to swap out the ricotta the original recipe called for with goat cheese, and to drizzle a little local honey over the pie before serving, which kicked it up a notch and lent a subtle sweetness to the otherwise super savory dish.

Tomato Tart

The remaining tomatoes went into the freezer to keep them from spoiling, but reappeared later in the week in the form of a soup.

Cherry Tomatoes, Frozen Slicing Tomatoes

Cream of tomato soup. It’s a classic. You can’t really go wrong. You don’t even need a recipe. I just threw all my remaining tomatoes– both cherry and large– into a pot with some garlic and Italian herbs and simmered until I was ready to eat. Then I just added a dash of heavy cream and whizzed it all up with my immersion blender. I didn’t measure a thing and it was delicious.

Tomato Soup


I’ve got one word for you: chilaquiles. I vaguely followed this recipe, but I used all three of the jalapeños that came in my CSA box, and I roasted them and the tomatillos in the oven before blending them into the salsa verde. Once again, I didn’t measure a thing, so don’t worry about sticking too close to the recipe. Measuring is overrated. (Says the person who finds carpentry particularly challenging).


Red Onion

Making the Quinoa Cakes

I could think of no higher calling for red onion than cheesy quinoa cakes. Mince half of an onion and chuck it into a bowl with 3 cups of cooked quinoa, some chopped green onions, 2 beaten eggs, somewhere in the ballpark of 1/4 cup of flour (enough to hold the batter together), and a hefty handful each of goat cheese and cheddar. Form the resulting batter into rounds about 1/4 cup in volume and fry over high heat with olive oil, and you’ve got yourself a light and lovely vegetarian lunch.

Grilling the Quinoa Cakes

Quinoa Cakes

Bon appetit!

Bon Appetit


In the Kitchen

CSA Saturday

July 11, 2015

Whew! Is it Saturday again? Time does fly when you’re cooking up a storm. Welcome to the 3rd edition of CSA Saturday. Let’s jump in, shall we?

CSA Produce

This week I came home with corn, more peppers, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, an onion, and a melon. Not pictured here– potatoes. Those naughty potatoes jumped right into a pot before I could photograph them with their vegetable brethren, but fear not! I have provided photographic evidence of their existence below!

Zucchini & Cherry Tomatoes

It happened to be the 4th of July when I picked up my box, so a good portion of our produce ended up either on the grill or on top of something that got grilled.

Can you spot the zucchini amongst the madness?


Check out those grill marks! Yum!

After being grilled, the leftover zucchini got chopped up and added to a simple pasta dish with egg noodles, olive oil, the cherry tomatoes, grilled chicken, and a hearty grating of parmesan cheese.

Zucchini Tomato Pasta


Like much of our produce this week, the onion succumbed to Fourth of July preparations. Here it is, caramelized to perfection and ready to be piled high atop many a burger or brat.



Aha! There are the sneaky potatoes, running off before the group picture.

Sneaky Potatoes

As punishment for their sneakery, they got cut into cubes, steamed, and smothered in potato salad fixin’s. A just punishment, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Potato Salad


Sliced and devoured. Sometimes it’s the simple things.

Peppers, Tomatoes, Corn

The peppers, several of the tomatoes, and the corn made their way into my Corn & Black Bean Stuffed Peppers, which I posted a recipe for earlier this week.

Roasted Peppers


The remaining tomatoes that weren’t sliced onto burgers or cooked into stuffed peppers ended up making it into one of my very favorite summertime dishes– an open-faced tomato sandwich. It’s as easy to make as it is to eat, and boy is it easy to eat. You may not be able to tell in this photo but there is bread under that stack of tomatoes!

Tomato Sandwich

The essentials: a  slab of good crusty bread, mayo, salt, tomatoes. As much as I can be a purist about my tomato sandwiches, I also have been known to mix it up form time to time, and this is an easy sandwich to customize. Swap out plain french bread for sourdough, whole wheat, or, as I did in this case, kalamata olive-studded. Add cheese. Add avocado. Drizzle with balsamic. Top with basil. With so many options, tomato sandwiches are an easy, tasty option for lunch or dinner that I never tire of.

That’s it for this week folks. Happy eating!

There will be no CSA Saturday next week as I will be away traveling and unable to cook for a week. CSA Saturday will return the following week with new recipe ideas and suggestions for making the best of your vegetable bounty!

In the Kitchen

How to Roast Garlic

July 9, 2015

Roasted garlic was the star of many a meal in my apartment last week, after I received three heads in my CSA box, and today I’m going to give you my top secret (not actually secret at all) recipe. If you’ve never roasted garlic before then you, my friend, are in for a treat!

Start by hacking off the pointy tip of each head like so. The idea is expose the top of each of the cloves.

Cut Garlic

Swipe a bit of oil on the bottom of your roasting pan, then arrange your cloves, root side down in the pan. No need to peel the head or cut off the roots. It’s all groovy.

Next, drizzle some olive oil over the top, making sure to get some in and around all the cloves. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on there. I prefer to use sea salt or kosher salt, but feel free to use whatever your heart tells you. I’m a firm advocate of following your heart, especially in culinary matters.

Ready to Roast

Almost ready! All that’s left now is to cover your roasting pan with aluminum foil and pop it into a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Voila! Roasted garlic. Easy as pie. Easier, actually. None of those pesky pie crusts to mess with.

Roasty Toasty Garlic

To get to the ooey gooey melted deliciousness that was once a humble garlic clove, grab the head at the base and give it a good squeeze. The cloves should pop right out. What you do with them next is only limited by your imagination. May I suggest a hearty roasted garlic and potato soup? Perhaps a pasta sauce with a secret garlicky surprise? Whatever you choose, I bet you won’t be disappointed.

Happy roasting!


In the Kitchen

Corn & Black Bean Stuffed Peppers

July 6, 2015

Remember how I told you I had a special recipe in the works that I was saving my chives for? Well, this is it. Full Belly Farm, the farm that I get my CSA from, asked me to contribute a recipe to their weekly newsletter for next week!

I was so excited by the opportunity to put together a special recipe that showcases a number of the seasonal products that will be in all the Full Belly CSA boxes this coming week. I wanted to make something that would be accessible regardless of dietary restrictions, so whether you’re vegetarian or gluten-free, this recipe should work for you! I think you’ll like it. I know I do. So, without further ado, here’s my take on a spicy vegetarian stuffed pepper dish using Full Belly Farm‘s Flamingo peppers, heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn, and chives.

Corn & Black Bean Stuffed Peppers



  • 4 Flamingo peppers*
  • 2 large tomatoes or 3-4 small tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • 2 ears of corn, kernels removed
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup red onion, chopped finely
  • ½ – 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped finely
  • ½ bunch of chives, minced (approx. 1/3 cup)**
  • ½ cup instant grits
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  • ¾ tbsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut off the top half inch of the peppers and remove the cores and seeds from inside. Slice a tiny sliver off the bottom of each pepper, if necessary, to get it to stand upright. Stand peppers in a rimmed, greased baking pan or ovenproof pot.
  3. Roughly chop the tomatoes into cubes, and cook on the stove over medium heat with a glug of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper until the juices release and the flesh starts to fall apart (5-10 minutes). Remove from heat and let sit.
  4. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add cooked tomatoes and mix until evenly moistened. Spoon mixture into hollowed out peppers until full. Replace pepper tops and cover the entire pan with tin foil.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Serve warm. Don’t worry if the peppers get a little bit charred and wrinkly looking—they’ll still taste great!

* This recipe makes more than enough stuffing for four average-sized peppers. I personally like to cook the extra stuffing in a separate pan. It gets nice and crispy and you can serve it with the peppers for those that enjoy a higher filling-to-pepper ratio, but you could also buy two extra peppers and stuff those instead.

** You can substitute scallions for the chives in this recipe.

Roasted Peppers

I hope you enjoy my recipe for vegetarian stuffed peppers! Let me know what you think in the comments below.


In the Kitchen

Happy 4th & a CSA Saturday

July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day! I hope your day is filled with good friends, good times, and most importantly, good food. Which brings us right to the point of today’s post because it’s that time again– time for another CSA Saturday!

As far as I’m concerned, it’s not summer until I’ve bitten into the first vine-ripened tomato of the season, which makes June 27th my personal first day of summer, since that’s when I got the first tomato in my CSA box. It was beautiful– not quite round, not quite red, completely delicious. It transformed, almost like magic, into a decadent pizza with almost no input on my behalf. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s a take a look at what else arrived in my box this week.

CSA Produce

Bell peppers, tomatoes, and corn, oh my! The trifecta of summer. Not to mention that juicy honeydew melon. I’m not talking about those bland watery green balls you buy at the supermarket. We’re talking sweet, delicious honey-flavored flesh. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Excuse me while I go cut off a slice…

…and we’re back. What else? Let’s see. We’ve got some kirby cucumbers, a mess of green beans, three heads of garlic, and a bunch of chives.

So what did I cook up in my kitchen this week with all that deliciousness? Stick with me, and we’ll find out.


I’m putting garlic first on this list because those three heads of garlic became the base of most of my meals for the week. First, I roasted the heck out of them.

Roasty Toasty Garlic

Then I spent the rest of the week squeezing out the melty roasted cloves and smearing them on everything in sight. They got spread across thick-cut slices of toast, covered with smashed avocado, and topped with a fried egg. They got whizzed into a mouth-tingling roasted jalapeño-garlic aioli and smeared on grilled corn.

Roasted Garlic Aioli

Most importantly, they formed the basis for my next recipe…

Tomatoes & Peppers

Mamma mia, it’s a pizza! Whole wheat pizza with roasted garlic smashed right onto the crust, smothered in tomato sauce, and topped with more roasted tomatoes, peppers, and onions. It was good. It was real good. It hit the spot.

Tomato & Pepper Pizza

Sweet Corn

That first pizza was so good, in fact, that I made a second pizza, just so the first one wouldn’t feel lonely in my belly. This one got the leftover pesto treatment (from last week’s CSA!) before being sprinkled with sweet corn kernels fresh off the cob, chopped zucchini and a judicious amount of cheese. Heck yeah.


A couple more ears of corn got tossed on the grill and smeared with the aforementioned jalapeño-garlic aioli. It was a revelation. I’m never eating plain corn again, and you shouldn’t either.


Melon is a beautiful invention. I like to think of it as nature’s bowl. Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and you’ve got yourself the perfect little cup to hold a helping of yogurt. The combo of sweet melon and sour yogurt is a big winner in my book.



Speaking of sour, this week we got all kinds of pickle-happy in my kitchen. I mean that in a strictly culinary sense, I promise you. Check out these dill cucumber spears, made with the randomly sized cukes we inherited in our box this week. I can barely wait the week it takes for them to fully soak in the brine! They look so good now.

Cucumber Pickles

Green Beans

This was our second week of green beans and we went in a radically different direction this week. Last week we made a Green Bean and Potato Curry. This week we made… more pickles! This is a special little recipe I’m developing for hot ‘n garlicky fermented green beans and okra. I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out! I’m no psychic, but I’m seeing lots of Bloody Marys in these pickles’ future.

Green Bean Pickles 2

Green Bean Pickles 1

And that’s all for this week folks! You may have noticed I didn’t use the chives in any of my meals this week, and that’s because they got saved for a special recipe that I’ll be releasing sometime in the next week and a half, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Now go grill things! Happy 4th.

In the Kitchen

CSA Saturday

June 27, 2015

Something exciting happened at the Palo Alto Farmer’s Market last Saturday, and it wasn’t me getting that cutie from the produce stand’s number. Not yet, at least.

Last week I picked up my first ever CSA box!

If that sounds like Greek to you, let me explain. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s a system of purchasing produce directly from a farm, usually in advance. Often sold as “shares,” a common CSA arrangement involves paying a certain fee upfront to the farm in exchange for a weekly delivery of produce for the length of the contract. A CSA share might be for a month, a season, or even an entire year. It’s a great system for farmers because it allows them to get a percentage of their profits for the season upfront, which gives them a certain amount of security and also takes the burden off at the beginning of the season when the farmer is buying seeds and materials for planting.

I love the idea of being part of a CSA, and though I’ve shopped at farmer’s markets for the past couple of years, I’d always shied away from taking the plunge and committing to a CSA until this summer. I worried I wouldn’t have the time to cook all that food, and I certainly didn’t want to find myself throwing away perfectly good produce just because I didn’t know what to do with that much basil. (Turn it into pesto, duh!)

Old Me had a food commitment issue. She couldn’t be bothered with the responsibility of caring for a weekly box of fresh produce. But New Me? She’s all about it!

I decided to go for a seasonal share for my first ever CSA. After careful consideration, I chose Full Belly Farm as my provider. Fully Belly is a certified organic farm located in Guinda, California, in Yolo County (I still chuckle every time I say that). That means my food will be travelling less than a hundred and fifty miles to make it from the farm to my doorstep. With the average American meal travelling thousands of miles from field to plate, that sounded relatively local to me. I also liked that all of the produce that goes into their CSA came from their farm, rather than being a mix and match of local purveyors as sometimes occurs in other CSAs. Best of all, they delivered to the Palo Alto Farmer’s Market, less than a two-block jaunt from my new apartment. Talk about convenient!

Picking up my box was a breeze. When I got to the Full Belly Farm stand, I just walked around the back, where the delivery truck was parked. There was a list of names of all the people with boxes that were being delivered that week, and mine was at the very top. Maybe it’s because my last name starts with “A,” but I like to think they were just excited to have me! I snagged one of the boxes and emptied the contents into my tote bag, getting a sneak peak at my veggies for the week as I did so—Armenian cucumbers! Bushels of apricots! Kohlrabi! I’m not gonna lie to you, I did a little veggie happy dance on the spot.

I couldn’t wait to get my haul home and empty it out on the counter so that I could ogle it in private! Here it is in all its glory (plus a couple of other sundries I picked up the market):

CSA Haul

There were new potatoes, green beans, Blenheim apricots, plums, a big bunch of green basil (my misguided fears come true!), Armenian cucumbers, beets, kohlrabi, and a honkin’ big onion.

If you’re wondering what in the heck you do with kohlrabi, then you, my friend, are in the right place, because this is the start of a new series I’m calling CSA Saturday. In it, I’ll be posting a weekly update on what arrived in my CSA box the previous week and what I did with it. I’ll be sharing recipes and meal ideas, as well as storage and cooking tips that will help you grill, sauté, bake, braise, broil, fry, or can your way through your CSA box, farmer’s market haul, or backyard harvest.

So what did I do with all that wonderful produce? Let’s take a peak!


Green Beans, Potatoes, Onion

A green bean and potato curry, garnished with chopped cashews and cilantro flowers.

Green Bean and Potato Curry

Potato, Onion

Hash browns, piled high with sautéed greens and drizzled with yogurt.

Hash Bowns and Greens


Pesto, duh!

Kohlrabi, Beets

Roasted beets and kohlrabi on a bed of tri-color quinoa, with sautéed kohlrabi greens, pesto (see above!) and feta cheese crumbles.

Beet and Kohlrabi Quinoa Bowl


The majority of my apricots ended up in a delightful crème fraîche and apricot tart, with a pistachio crust. Head on over to The Bojon Gourmet for the recipe. It’s one of my favorites!

Apricot Pie

The rest got cooked down for a couple of minutes on the stovetop with a sprinkle of sugar and a dash of balsamic before being spooned over yogurt and topped with leftover pistachio crumbles. Yum!

Yogurt and Apricots

Armenian Cucumber, Plums

These guys didn’t make it into a recipe. They disappeared into my belly before I could even snap a picture—cucumbers slathered in hummus, and plums icy cold and fresh from the fridge after a long bike ride.

All in all, a very successful first CSA! Stay tuned for next week’s CSAs adventures, plus some original recipes.