Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our Raised Garden

Zack's parents came over last weekend and the four of us braved the near 100 degree heat to build our raised garden bed. 

We have a rabbit problem in our yard. Much to our dog's dismay, she's so far been unable to catch any of them. Not for lack of trying, however. 

We realize that the point of the raised bed is to discourage any rabbits from hopping into your garden and destroying your crops. Our rabbits seems to be quite ingenious, so we decided to go the extra step and build in posts to hold some chicken wire around the perimeter.

Our entire garden is 4' wide x 10' long, and 10 1/2" deep. We filled it with a combination of compost, potting soil and peat moss. 

Since the temperatures have been unusually high lately, we decided to buy many of our plants already grown, instead of starting from seeds. We purchased our herbs: parsley, rosemary, oregano, thyme, two basil plants, and onion chives. 

We have yellow and red bell peppers, grape tomatoes, and super fantastic tomatoes, which are basically beefsteaks. We also are trying our hand at white onions, garlic, shallots, summer squash, strawberries, carrots, and radishes. We started the carrots and radishes from seed.

We have a lot of other leafy vegetables that we will be planting later in the year when it cools off a bit.

After a scorching hot Memorial Day weekend, we have gotten some relief with a nice downpour and cooler temperatures. We also noticed that some insects have been enjoying our parsley and one of our basil plants, so we're trying to get that under control. At least we hope it's insects. Otherwise, we'll be trying to catch that rabbit and take him to a good home somewhere miles away from our house. 

We'll update you with the progress of our garden throughout the summer!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Asparagus Stuffed Chicken

We ran across some gorgeous purple asparagus at our local farmer's market the other day. We love asparagus, and rejoice for spring when it is fresh. Also on our healthy eating plan, we wanted to kick our chicken up a notch.

Here's what you need:
1 1/2-2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 bunch of asparagus
Fresh Basil
Garlic (we used green garlic from the Farmer's Market)
Kosher Salt and Pepper

Here's what you do:
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.

Chop up your garlic (or green garlic.

Rinse and snap your asparagus. Keep it in long strips so it will stay in the chicken easier.

Finally, butterfly your chicken breasts. 

Add the provolone first to the inside of the chicken.

Next, add the asparagus.

Then add the garlic.

And finally, add the basil leaves. If you want to slice these up, feel free, but we liked the idea of leaving them whole.

Now, you roll. Carefully roll the chicken over, and secure with toothpicks to hold it together while it cooks. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Place in your preheated oven for 30-45 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. 

Remove all of the toothpicks. 

Voila! You have something gorgeous to serve, that really doesn't require much work.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Restaurant Recap: Meatheads

Meatheads opened in town a few months ago and we finally made it out to give it a try. As you can probably tell by our restaurant reviews, we enjoy a good burger. Meatheads did not disappoint. It's probably our second favorite burger place in town. We couldn't eat here all of the time, unless we wanted to have an untimely heart attack, but it is great for a cheat day.

We kind of wish we had perused the toppings before online we went, because there are a ton of choices. We each ended up getting one of their listed sandwiches, instead of building our own.

Michelle had the Californian, which is a 1/3 lb Angus burger with pepper jack, cucumber wasabi sauce, avocado, lettuce, tomato and she added a fried egg. Everything is better with a fried egg, and with this sandwich, you're not really concerned with your health. 

The ingredients were fresh and delicious. The cucumber wasabi sauce was incredible. It's a big burger, so it's not the easiest to eat, but it's worth getting messy.

Zack had the Cajun Sunrise, which is a 1/3 lb Angus burger with a fried egg, pepper jack, bacon, bleu cheese sauce, lettuce, tomato and fresh jalapenos.

The bacon was nice an crispy. The jalapenos were spicy, but not overpowering. With all of the toppings, you would assume it would leave your mouth on fire, but everything was incredibly balanced. 

We didn't snap a photo of the french fries, but they were also delicious. They weren't overly greasy and the perfect mix of crunchy and soft. 

They bring the burger out to you and clear your plate when you're done. The service was excellent. We'd recommend checking it out!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Baked Asparagus

This is probably our favorite way to prepare asparagus. It still has a nice bite to it, and gets nice and crispy on the outside. We do steam it from time to time, but if we already have the oven on for any reason, in goes the asparagus. It's so simple and tasty, you won't ever want to prepare it another way.

Here's what you do:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Start with one bunch of asparagus and snap the woody ends off.

Next, put in a oven safe dish and coat with olive oil, Kosher salt and pepper. Make sure to toss it around to make sure everything is coated in the oil.

Bake for 15 minutes.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Farmer's Market

If there's a farmer's market in your area, we recommend checking it out. It's kind of a big deal in our community, and we love all of the fresh produce and local, sustainable, organic farmers. 

We stumbled on a new ingredient that we had never heard of before. Green Garlic. It's basically a milder form of garlic that you can eat raw. We'd say it's a cross between a scallion and a garlic bulb. It's a little spicier than scallions, but much milder than garlic. You can cook with it just like garlic, or garnish a dish with it. We're sure that this hybrid veggie has been around for a while, and we can't believe we just came across it. 

We also found some gorgeous purple asparagus. We used it in a couple of different preparations, so be on the lookout for those posts. 

Also, we found purple and yellow carrots. We sliced some up in a salad the other day, and we plan on roasting what's left. 

Finally, one of our favorite Farmer's Market buys is local honey. If you have allergies, you'll want to pick some up. It's made with the honey from local bees, which means they're picking up the allergens in our air. If you have a spoonful of local honey every day, you'll notice an improvement in your allergies, because your body is building up antibodies. It's science.

We look forward to a long season of Saturday morning Farmer's Market trips, and we hope you do too!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spanish Rice

We debated on whether or not to actually write this post. It's so simple it's ridiculous. We're pretty sure that there are much more difficult recipes for Spanish rice, but we just threw this together to pair with our Verde Chicken Enchiladas, which is the same filling for the Verde Chicken Tacos, but we roll in tortillas and cover with cheese and verde sauce.

Here's what you need:
1 cup rice (we used brown rice)
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup chunky salsa

Here's what you do:
Cook rice according to package instructions.

Once cooked, fluff with a fork, then stir in the salsa.

The end.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lasagna Rolls

This recipe is another that we threw together out of our pantry/freezer/fridge. We still have some venison in the freezer, so we used that to make this dish a little leaner. You can use ground beef or ground turkey.

Here's what you need:
1 lb ground meat
1/2 red onion
2 cloves garlic
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
2 Tbsp fresh tarragon
3 cups grated cheese (we used 2 cups grated gruyere we had left and 1 cup mozzarella)
1/2 package of lasagna noodles

Here's what you do:
Dice up your onion and mince your garlic.

Chop up your tarragon.

Start your water boiling for your lasagna noodles.

Add the ground venison to a 12" skillet and brown completely over medium to medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic and let cook until softened.

Once the onions have turned translucent, drain as much of the liquid off as possible and add the sauce.

Reduce your sauce to low and let it simmer until everything else is ready.

Once your water boils, drop your lasagna noodles and cook to al dente. They will continue cooking in the oven later.

Once your noodles are ready, drain and toss with a little bit of olive oil to prevent them from sticking together.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Spread a little bit of sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish.

Lay one noodle out on a plate, spread a bit of sauce over it, and then a thin layer of cheese.

Carefully roll the pasta and place in the casserole dish.

Continue rolling the pasta until you have just a couple spoonfuls of sauce left. Spoon the remaining sauce over the top of the rolls. Cover that with more cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese melts and starts to brown just a bit.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Homemade Croutons

We made some of our French Lentil soup a little while back, and instead of buying croutons at the store, we decided to try our hand at making our own. We figured we could control the salt content and add plenty of pepper like we like. You actually won't believe how simple they are to make.

Here's what you need:
1 loaf crusty bread (we used sourdough, but whatever you want is fine)
Olive oil to coat
Kosher salt and pepper
Any other spices you may want to add

Here's what you do:
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Slice your bread into cubes and lay out on a cookie sheet.

Coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss around to make sure they're well coated.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crunchy on the outside. The amazing part is they'll still be slightly chewy on the inside. 


Monday, May 7, 2012

Lemon Tart

We really enjoy lemon desserts. Behind a good chocolate cake or pumpkin pie, lemon is probably our favorite. So, we created this seriously tasty lemon tart. The recipe is basically like every other lemon tart recipe out there, with a little Amateur Foodie twist.

Here's what you need:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
3/8 cup butter, softened
2 tsp cinnamon

3 large eggs
1 cup white sugar
Zest of one lemon
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Here's what you do:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Put all of your crust ingredients into a bowl.

If you have a pastry blender or food processor, combine with that. We don't have either of those things, so we used our hands. It worked just fine, though a tad messy. It should be crumbly.

Pour the crust into a pie plate or tart pan and spread evenly.

Bake just the crust for 10-15 minutes or until it begins to brown. Ok, so these pictures look the same, but we promise the crust had browned.

While the crust is baking, combine all of the ingredients for the tart in a large bowl.

Mix together until light and fluffy.

When your crust is ready, pour the tart mixture over the crust.

Return to the oven (carefully) for another 15-20 minutes. Do the toothpick test (put a toothpick in the center and when it comes out clean, you're done). The top will have thickened, but the inside will still be creamy. 

Dust the top of the tart with a bit more confectioners' sugar. The easiest way to do this is to use a small mesh strainer. Put the confectioners' sugar in it, then just tap the edge to dust the sugar over the tart.

We topped our slices with fresh mint, but you could also add fresh raspberries, or just eat it as is!


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Asian Rice

We needed an Asian inspired side dish to accompany our Asian Pork Loin. We love Asian flavors, so we keep a lot of this on hand all of the time. We have to thank Michelle's aunt and uncle for the fresh mint from their garden.

Here's what you need:
1/4 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
about 1/4 cup olive oil
black pepper to taste

1 cup Jasmine rice
1 1/2 cup water
2-3 Tbsp fresh mint
1 carrot

Here's what you do:
Rinse your jasmine rice and combine with the water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover for 20 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, combine all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk to emulsify.

Grate one carrot using a microplane (you can chop it, it's just easier to grate it).

Chop up your fresh mint.

Once the rice is finished cooking, fluff with a fork, then fold into the dressing.

Add the mint and carrot and fold that in too.

Voila - instant Asian Rice!