Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Oh, boy, here we go. If you thought you were free from me endlessly praising Thug Kitchen, you thought wrong.

A couple of weeks ago (Hey, no shame – Thanksgiving is a busy time. These will be catch-up posts.), I made the Sweet Potato, Squash, and Black Bean Enchiladas from Thug Kitchen. I didn’t have any summer squash (I’m cooking seasonally here, and trying not to buy things that aren’t already in my giant box of vegetables), but they came out fantastic, anyway.

I used a white sweet potato, which I steamed in my bamboo steamer.

These got smashed and cooked up in a pan with some onion, beans, and spices.

The sauce was absurdly easy to make. Who needs jarred?

Some whole-wheat tortillas from Trader Joe’s and a pan to drown the wraps in…

Baked and topped with some cilantro. Delicious.

They were really satisfying. Filling and warming, as enchiladas should be. Though they were vegan, it didn’t feel like anything was missing. The beans and potatoes gave them plenty of weight, without using any meat or cheese.

On a slightly more meta note…

I always do a quick search before posting these recipes. Thug Kitchen does post some of their recipes online, but the vast majority are not, since they obviously want you to buy their cookbook. I’ve seen other blogs repost the entire recipe, but that makes me feel unsettled; surely that’s a copyright problem? Anyway, I want to regale you with the images of my delicious adventures through these recipes, and you’re free to try to approximate on your own or find the recipe from other sources, but ultimately I really would want you to just buy their cookbook. It’s worth every penny, and you’re supporting a couple of specific (hilarious, creative, and socially-conscious) people. The cookbooks make great Christmas presents, too.

The Season is Over (No, Really Now.)

Yesterday was the “Stock up share” pickup for CSA. This is the true end to the season – one last push¬† through a mountain of veggies. I made the slightly ambitious decision to plow forward and get a second share this year – several people had expressed interest to me but were worried that it was going to be too much produce for them. So, I divided up the second share and will be playing vegetable Santa over the next 24 hours or so. That still leaves me with 1 full share and odds and ends from the second. I also got 2 boxes of mixed apples from the orchard that supplies our fruit share.

This is what my kitchen looked like at about 5 pm yesterday:

I tweeted the photo with the caption, “I have a self-control problem.”

Today was the preschool bake sale (I made gingerbread cookies with Owen), and I’m hosting Thanksgiving on Thursday… and Friendsgiving on Sunday… so my days have been full of prep tasks. With all of this in mind, dinner needed to be fast, simple, and filling last night. I wasn’t in the mood to do a lot of scrubbing last night, so instead of using fresh carrots, I used some I’d blanched and frozen a few weeks ago. That, along with broccoli, corn, napa cabbage (from the share last night), and tempeh marinated in garlic ginger maple syrup all went into the wok together for a stir-fry.

Rainbow Carrots are so pretty, aren’t they?

Even better, I had leftover rice from making Leek Rice Cakes the other night. (More on THAT later. Yum.)

Better STILL, my husband and I (Owen was not as adventurous) decided to top our stir-fry with the pickled daikon radishes I made the other night. (Again, more on that later!)

Fast, filling, interesting, accidentally vegan… and drastically different from the way we’ll be eating at the end of the week. Success.

Vegetable Soup Base

You know how people talk about “life hacks?”

Yeah, it kind of makes my skin crawl, too. But if there were a CSA-equivalent of a life-hack this time of year, it’d be the vegetable soup base.

This week, we had carrots, celery, peppers, and onions. I had garlic in the house, and I had weeks worth of potatoes backed up… time to make some soup base.

I made some vegetable stock with some scraps that were sitting in the fridge while I prepped other parts of the share, and then I began sauteing the vegetables for the soup…

Pretty simple – I combined this melange with the vegetable stock, salt, and pepper, and let it simmer for a while before packaging it up and sticking it in the freezer. Over the winter, it will pair well with any combination of: egg noodles, orzo, meatballs, sausage, turkey, or chicken. Every year, prepping this base has been useful… and on a week where I’ve already got meals covered, it’s a relief to have a purpose for this much of the share.

Happy prepping!

Last regular-season pickup

It’s a bittersweet time of year. My freezers are packed, and more vegetables are on the way in the stock up share next week. I’ve spent the last 25 Tuesday nights (with the exception of the week I was on vacation) washing, prepping, cooking, and scheming. I’ve got enough potatoes backed up to feed an army. So, in some ways, sure I’m ready for the season to end. At the same time, I never feel ready. I obviously love the cooking and planning that goes into using everything in my share, but I also love the friendships I’ve been making with other members and the community aspect of the whole deal. We’re super lucky in that our farmer sends weekly updates from the farm via email, too, so I’ll be missing that in the off-season.

I mentioned the stock-up share. Every year, on the week of Thanksgiving, Farmer John offers a bulk share of vegetables to “stock up.” There are some last greens and perishable veggies, but it’s primarily onions, potatoes, and squashes, that keep well if you know where & how to store them. It’s a great deal and gives him one last economic boost (there’s an extra charge) before heading into the off-season. If you’re local and are interested in buying a stock-up box, send me a message. They open it up to non-members. You have until Friday to get your order in.

ALSO, if you are local, let me know if you have an interest in joining the CSA next year. There are available memberships going into next season! If you’re interested in buying a share or splitting a share with someone, I can give you all the details of what’s involved. Sign ups usually happen in March, but it’s never too early to start thinking about it.

Off-season does NOT mean I will be discontinuing this blog. I have many meals that I photographed during October but did not manage to post; we had some family-related commitments that took precedence over blogging, understandably. I’ll work my way through those, as well as updates as I cook my way through my stock-up box. I am working on a new system of organizing my recipes, so there will be some technical posting about that, plus I’ll use some of the down time to flesh out the site, including fleshing out the page of recommended cookbooks.

And so, I bid a fond farewell to Tuesday pickups for the 2017 season.

Celery Root and Beets

Celery root. Every year, it shows up near the end of the season, and every year, I wish I knew more to do with it than to make a soup or a mashed-potato-like side. This year, I did the leg work and came up with some new choices, and we tried one of them last night.

Celery Root Puree with Balsamic Roasted Beets and Pearl Onions

Now, I am not a fancy person. This should be obvious from my entire approach to this blog, down to the clearly-not-professional pictures. However, this is a recipe that looks and sounds fancy while being practical, easy, and delicious. I didn’t have any coconut milk, so I substituted almond milk, and it worked fine. We served it with flax tempeh that was marinated in garlic-ginger maple syrup and then roasted, as well as a loaf of sea salt foccacia, and it was a deeply satisfying chilly-night dinner.

The amazing maple syrup concoction came from Get Juiced, by the way. We visited them at the Pocono Garlic Festival, though they have a storefront in Sussex if you are local and an online store if that’s a haul for you.

Buttercup Squash Follow-Up

For a squash that I’d never heard of before joining the CSA, buttercup squash sure has a following on the internet. I came up with ten recipes to try with hardly any effort. I’m hoping we get a few in the stock-up share next week, so I can expand my experimenting.

The recipe I decided to try was this one.  My three-year-old is not big on squash right now, so I was hoping the lure of apples (one of his favorite foods) would balance it out and get him to eat some.

… well, he ate the apples. Sigh. Toddlers.

Anyway, this made a tasty side dish. Even though it claims to be “for 2,” this lasted us through 3 meals as a side. My squash was bigger than the recipe calls for, and I increased the roasting time, though not enough. The apples started to brown before the squash was really soft. For reheating, I wrapped the halves in foil, and I think I would do that from the beginning to help urge the roasting on.

Overall, a pretty good choice!

Planning Ahead

Life gets crazy sometimes. OK, a lot of the time, especially if you have kids. Or a job. Or a house. Or… you get it.

That’s why it’s so important to use down time to plan ahead. I’m on the receiving end of many a joke for the state of my freezers (yes, multiple), which spend a large portion of the year at – or, honestly, beyond – capacity. Between the seasonal abundance of the CSA and my penchant for combining sales and coupons, I do a lot of squirreling away.

Tonight is one of those nights where it paid off.

I have an odd tutoring schedule today. My first student got extended until 4 pm, and my next two are at 6 and 7. I needed a dinner that didn’t require much preparation time, that I could eat on my own at about 5:30, and that could be kept warm for my husband and son to eat a little after 6.

This was the result.

Broccoli-Turkey Pie, Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes, and Green Beans.

The Broccoli-Turkey Pie recipe is here. After Thanksgiving and Easter, as well as any other time I have a turkey stashed in my freezer, I make this pie. If you err on the side of slightly undercooking it (which, in my experience is still a longer cooking time than the recipe suggests), it freezes well. I leave it in the glass pie dish, allow it to cool, wrap it in plastic wrap, and then wrap it again in foil. Defrost in the microwave and then leave in a 350 degree oven until it’s heated through.

I took 2 lbs of sweet potatoes (what I happened to get in my share two weeks ago), and peeled and cubed them. I then boiled them until tender. I drained most of the water, but left a little. Leaving some of the starchy water allows you to cut back on the amount of milk necessary to mash, and since I’m gradually on the downward spiral of lactose intolerance, this is appealing to me. I added a splash of milk and some butter, and mashed. I then added some (maybe between 1/8 and 1/4 cup) maple syrup, and some cinnamon and nutmeg. YUM.

The green beans were from the CSA, blanched and frozen earlier this summer. Straightforward boiling, topped with lime sea salt and lemon pepper.

Hectic work evening: managed.