Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Soup time! Chipotle Albondigas Meatball Soup

Well, hello everyone!  Once again, time has gotten away from me...and it's now almost winter.  We've somehow skipped through fall, my favorite season...and are now almost in winter mode, seeing as how we've had a few snowfalls here in WI now.  So, that means it's...soup season!

My hubby tried a new recipe a few nights ago, and it was amazing!  So I'm going to share the link with you all :)  It was deliciously yummy...warm, soothing, the right hint of spice.

Chipotle Albondigas Meatball Soup:

For our "tweaks" we didn't add rice to the meatballs, nor did we add sweet potato, zucchini, or chayote, or kale, as we didn't have these in our refrigerator.  We did add diced carrots and sliced baby portabellas.  This would pair well with potatoes and chopped, fresh spinach, too.

We served this with warm tortillas.  I also think it would be yummy with crusty French bread/baguette or cornbread.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Chopped! Kale...the powerful green!

Chopped!  Kale, the powerful green...

Kale is considered a leaf cabbage.  Kale varieties are considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms of Brassica oleracea.  Kale: from decorative plant  to a lovely addition to the food table!  I'm so glad that I have kale on my food table from time to time.

My favorite way to eat kale is chopped/shredded in salad form.  I can make a large kale salad and it can keep for several days in the refridgerator, keeping it's texture and flavor.  I have also discovered I like it chopped and sautéed (with onions and cabbage and spices like s&p, cumin seeds, and red pepper flakes for a  touch of heat) or steamed, like a Southern green (you can use the same spices as previously listed).  YUM!

This past weekend's kale salad consisted of 3 small bunches of chopped/shredded kale (washed 3 times, spun dry using salad spinner) fresh from the Z Garden with 1/4 medium head shredded napa cabbage (thank you CSA!), 1 small sliced onion, 2 sliced small pickling cucumbers (fresh from the Z Garden), 4 small sliced carrots, (1) box of organic garbanzo beans, drained.  This was dressed with a simple, homemade dressing (no need to mix ahead of time, I just added all dressing ingredients on top of salad ingredients) of 4 "glugs"/"swirls" of organic olive oil (slowly pour olive oil in a circular motion over ingredients), approximately 1/4 c. Maletti German white balsamic vinegar (from Vom Fass), approximately 3 T. apple cider vinegar, and s&p to taste (approximately 3/4 t. salt and 1/4-1/2 t. pepper).  All ingredients were mixed and tossed well in a large salad bowl.

For my individual lunch portion I added a small handful of Z garden cherry/grape tomatoes, chopped 1/2 small avocado, and one halved boiled egg.  It was delish!!!  So tasty.


Monday, August 29, 2016

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Well, as you all might already know, my family loves Tex Mex food!  I learned how to make my own taco seasoning, and it's a welcome addition to the Z spice cabinet.

Here's how you can make your own, too.

Yield: Fills (1) 8-9 oz jar

1 3/4 t. garlic powder
1 3/4 t. onion powder or dehydrated onions
1 3/4 t. dried oregano
3 1/2 t. paprika
3 1/2 t. ground cumin
3 1/2 t. sea salt
3 1/2 t. black pepper
1/4 c. + 3 T. chili powder
optional: 1 t. crushed red pepper flakes (shaker peppers - recipe two blog posts ago!)

Add spices to jar one at a time.  Close jar tightly and shake slightly to ensure spices are well mixed, evenly distributed.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016


A lot of rain and still sunny weather makes the Z Garden explode!!

Enjoy these last days of summer sun and warmth!  Fall is around the favorite season! :)


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pepper Power...Activate!

Pepper Power...Activate! :)

The Z Garden has exploded with veggie goodness...we are thankful.  In the explosion of goodness comes a nice variety of peppers: Thai red chili, Serrano, jalapeno, Hungarian red, green bell, and new this year: habenero.  What on earth do we do with all these peppers?  I typically freeze the green bell peppers that we aren't able to eat (in the next week it appears we will have an overabundance so this will be occurring soon!); I pickle a nice medley of the Hungarians, Serranos, and jalapenos with onions, garlic, carrots (see my previous blog post); I occasionally freeze the Thai red chilis for use in stews and curries; I use the habernos for a yummy homemade shui mai or dumpling sauce in combination with soy sauce, sesame oil, and other goodies (minced garlic and fresh ginger root) that I keep in the freezer; and now, just yesterday, I completed dehydrating a full variety of all of the peppers, as we had many bags in the refrigerator, for Crushed Peppers, aka what I call "Shaker Peppers" (good on pizza, in stews, etc).  We made these a few years ago and decided to make another batch this year.

Jen's Shaker Peppers:
1. Preheat oven at 170F.

2. Slice variety of peppers (I sliced the peppers by hand as some of the peppers are too pliable or soft for the mandolin) and place on wax paper/parchment paper lined baking sheets.  WASH HANDS thoroughly with soap afterwards, as the pepper oils can be very irritating to the skin.  If you have a face mask, feel free to wear one if you are highly sensitive.  Feel free to also wear gloves for handling and slicing if you wish.

3. Place in oven at 170F for approx 14 hours for full drying.  These pepper dehydrated overnight, during slumber! I began at 3:45 p.m. and removed the peppers from the oven at 5:45 a.m.

4. In a well-ventilated kichen - please use a face mask if you have one - or, in my case, I did this process outside, as the pepper "dust" and oils can be quite irritating to the eyes and skin, place dehydrated peppers in a food processor with chopping blade in place.

5.  Mix/whir peppers on highest speed for several minutes, pulsing to desired texture if needed.  The longer you whir the peppers, the finer the texture will be - if you desire a powder format vs. a more crushed pepper seed format you will need to mix/whir/pulse for a longer period of time.  Again, please be aware the the pepper "dust" can be irritating, even in a well-ventilated area.

6.  Take care in handling the crushed pepper mixture.  Pour into glass jar for spice cabinet storage and use.  This mixture will last up to a year or longer. (Yes, all of those peppers pictured yielded ONE Ball jar of shaker peppers!)

These "Shaker Peppers" liven up the flavor for sauces, stews, pizza, and many other dishes.  Remember:  A little goes a lllooonnnngggg way! :)


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The "Ugly Truth" About Imperfect Fruits and Vegetables - a Thumbs' Up From the Z Family!

Happy Tuesday!

I'll be posting links and other helpful food, garden, and other tips on my blog for information purposes for those so inclined. there's this:

The "ugly truth" about imperfect fruits and vegetables...a thumbs' up from the Z family!

Happy eating!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Holy harvest, Batman! It's time for pickling!

Here in Wisconsin it's been quite humid and we've had deluge rains...which...lead to... Holy harvest, Batman!  It's time for pickling!  And consuming...and freezing... :)

These last few years with too many peppers to count and lovely CSA and Z garden vegetables, I've found that I enjoy "quick pickling" as a way of preserving these gorgeous veggies.  This year, I'm doing the "tried and true" peppers/carrots/onions/garlic mixture, but I'm also pickling a few new versions:  tomatillos and fennel, cherry tomatoes, and my own version of regular pickles, aka cucumber "chips".  We'll see how these turn out.  I hope they will be "winners".

Here's the quick pickling recipe for those that are curious:

3 1/2 c. water
2 1/4 c. vinegar (I used a mixture of white vinegar and apple cider vinegar)
6-7 T. kosher salt
6-7 T. organic sugar
dried herbs (parsley, dill, sometimes oregano) and whole black peppercorns

variety of peppers, sliced (I use my mandolin)
peeled, rough chopped garlic cloves
peeled, sliced carrots (again, I use my mandolin for a consistent cut)
peeled and chopped white onion

Pack veggies into clear, dry jars.  Dissolve salt and sugar in water first, then add vinegar.  Heat on stove until boiling.  Remove from heat.  Pour over peppers in jars.  Cover immediately.  Let cool on counter, then refrigerate.

Ready in about7-10 days for eating!  Num num!

**I use upcycled jars for my pickled goodies - the red and white lid jars are Bonne Maman jam jars (aren't they cute?!) and jars from other pickled goodies, jams, spices.**

Monday, July 11, 2016

Z Garden Harvests and Glimpse in the Kitchen

 The Z garden and yard is in full summer mode and the weather has been very suitable for great garden growth.  It's been a busy week and a half of so in the Z Garden and kitchen...harvests and herb prep for the table, freezer, and spice cabinet!  With basil from our lovely CSA and our Z garden, I was able to prepare basil pesto for the table and freezer, and our dried herbs were ready for whirring in the food processor and storage in upcycled jam jars.

There are now a few glimpses of color in the harvests now with a few beets, carrots, and a few random schmaters and raspberries.  Soon there will be a color explosion.  Can't wait!

Hoping you've all had a great week and a half or so, and I hope you're all enjoying your summer!