Dinner successes

Two nights in a row, Little Chef has informed me that I’ve cooked “the best dinnerĀ ever.” High praise from a preschooler!

Last night was nothing groundbreaking in terms of creativity, but I do have to agree that it was delicious. I sauteed chicken apple sausage with a bunch of leftover vegetables – a summer squash, a few tomatoes, garlic, spinach – and served it mixed up with bow tie pasta. The end result had a sweet-and-smoky thing going on, unsurprising because of both the apples in the sausage and the small sprinkle of maple sugar I added in during cooking. Adding sugar to this concoction seems so counter-intuitive, but I was thinking in terms of cutting the acidity of the tomatoes, the way you would when making marinara sauce.

Tonight, we had homemade vegan Sloppy Joes, with corn on the cob (from Farmer John) and cherry tomatoes (from Chelsa).

For the sandwiches, I sauteed onions in some grapeseed oil, cumin, and chili powder. I then added garlic and bell pepper. When they started to soften, I added a package of chorizo seitan. Meanwhile, I made the sauce.

Growing up, I definitely remember Mom making Sloppy Joes with pre-packaged sauce. It’s ridiculously easy to make your own sauce, though, and it honestly tastes better. I used 3/4 cup ketchup, to which I added a healthy glug of Worcestershire (you can adjust based on how smoky you like your food), dried mustard (I would have used dijon if I had it, but we’re out of mustard currently), a heavy-handed dash of pepper (again, optional) and some water to thin it out – about half a cup.

I added the sauce to the seitan and veggie mix, and I let it cook down until the sauce thickened. Somewhere along the way, I decided that I was concerned that it wouldn’t be enough food – because that’s what I do – so I added a can of kidney beans. It would have been exactly enough without the beans, but they tasted good! And now we have leftovers!

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!

Sausage Crustless Mini-quiches

Of course, when any of us hears “CSA,” the vegetables are the first thing that come to mind. I can’t speak for every CSA out there, but in the case of mine, there are also shares available in fruit, poultry, eggs, and individual orders of meats and one-off crops, like blueberries. I’m ambitious (and have ample freezer space), so I get a dozen eggs, a package of apple chicken sausage, 2 lb of ground turkey, and a whole broiler chicken on alternate weeks. Today’s breakfast (made last night) showcases this side of my share. I made muffin-tin chicken sausage crustless mini-quiches. That’s a mouthful.

First, the prep. I cut up some red onion and red potato into small pieces. What’s pictured ended up being way too much – the remainder of the onion went into last night’s salad, and the potatoes went into the freezer to be hash browns on some winter morning. I also chopped up the greens from the radishes we got this week, and a few cloves of German White garlic, still hanging around from the garlic festival.

I squeezed the sausage out of its casings into a hot pan with a turn of olive oil. As it browned, I crumbled up the pieces.

When the sausage was mostly done, but not quite, I added the onions and potatoes. I let that cook for a couple of minutes, then added the garlic. Again, a pause for a couple of minutes, and then the greens, which I allowed to wilt and then I turned off the heat. Along the way, I chose to add some smoked paprika, but you could really season it any way you prefer.

 

This mixture got equally divided among 12 muffin tins.

I scrambled some eggs with some milk and parmesan cheese. I estimated six eggs (what I usually use for a fritatta), but ended up needing to add a seventh. I poured the scrambled egg mixture into each of the cups, fillingĀ  each most of the way. Next time, I plan to scramble the eggs in my big glass measuring cup – pouring out of the bowl into the small targets was tougher than I expected.

I baked them at 375 for somewhere around half an hour. The trick is to keep an eye on them and test them when they start to brown on top. If you can stick a knife into the center of the center-most quiche and it comes out clean, then they’re done.

These were a delicious and filling breakfast this morning, along with some applesauce and toast. Even my toddler cleared his plate!