Sunday, February 26, 2012

Week 47 - Lucky Now

One more week until I hopefully will come for air from some insanely busy work projects, so it wasn't looking so good for me to get a lot of cooking done this week.  Luckily for me, I've got my husband on the hook to make a few different meals this weekend so he may do most of the heavy lifting this week.  Though he loves to cook and in the past often did most of the weekend's cooking, work has also gotten in the way of his hobby.  I'm very glad timing has worked out well for him to have some playtime this weekend.  I'm sure we'll all enjoy the end results! 

In the box this week
(top) lettuce, tatsoi, spinach, kale
(bottom) parsnips, carrots, onions, butternut squash, oranges, apples, peas, strawberries

Meals/recipes for the week
Given what my husband is signed up to do, this seems pretty doable.  Now, off to shop and get ready for the busy, busy week ahead!
This week's title is inspired by the song of the same name by Ryan Adams.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Week 46 in Review

The Score
Eaters - 10.5     Compost - 0.5     Carry Over - 1

This week's test to see if I could use the box up went fairly well.  The week's meals weren't as gourmet as some have been, and there were a fair number of repeated concepts but - bottom line - we successfully used up most of the box without working to a meal plan.  Meals were often randomly thrown together using an ingredient or two, but not necessarily following a recipe.  We are carrying over a few radishes and celery stalks, and ended up composting a bit of cilantro, but all in all, not too shabby.  Honestly, I like to take more of a planned approach, but it's nice to see that it's still possible to make good use of the box when I might not have time to think ahead. 

Nothing this week was revolutionary, so I'm going to divide the results up by the time of day that they were served.

  • We took the kale and some left over potatoes and made a breakfast frittata served with fresh squeezed orange juice. 

  • We took the parsnips and roasted them along with some baby potatoes and carrots, then tossed all the veggies in olive oil, fresh rosemary and garlic. 
  • I sauteed a few parsnips, celery, potatoes, black beans, and corn, and then used that mixture as the filling for some enchiladas served with a super quick tomatillo cilantro salsa.  This was definitely a 'use up what I've got' recipe, and it worked surprisingly well!
 Prepping the filling

 The final product, with cilantro on top
  • The broccolini and spinach from the box were paired with some peas and onions from our garden, as well as some mushrooms from the store, for a delicious stir fry. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Week 46 - Just a Test

The next couple of weeks are going to be tough.  I have a very big work deliverable due by the end of the month, and I'm working way too many hours because of it.  I know that this is going to be a week where I'm not going to have much time at all to cook, but in some ways it feels like it is a good test.  Can we still use up most of the box when we have weeks like this?  Therefore, I'm not going to try to plan it all out in advance.  I'm just going to shop for the basics, and hope that I can wing it and make some simple meals that use up what we've got in the little time I have. 

In the box this week
(top) lettuce, spinach, kale, cilantro
(bottom) celery, parsnips, broccolini, radishes, tomatillos, oranges, apples
(extra purchase) strawberries

Given that this year is quickly nearing an end, I think this week will be a chance for me to practice using the box 'when no one is looking.'  Part of the goal of this entire experience has been to get comfortable with whatever ingredients we receive, and this week's demanding schedule will give me a chance to see if that comfort level is there.  I look forward to reporting back on how things go!
This week's title is inspired by the song of the same name by the Beastie Boys.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Week 45 in Review

The Score
Eaters - 11     Compost - 1     Carry Over - 0

Valentine's day made for a great occasion to use up a bunch of ingredients from the box.  That meal alone featured spinach, celery, oranges, parsnips, and marjoram from the box, and made for three fun and flavorful courses.  Interestingly, however, it wasn't that meal that was the highlight of the week; perhaps that much good food all at once makes it more difficult to pick a favorite?  All in all, it was another great week.  We did get through most of the box, though ended up having to compost a few stalks of celery that went rubbery and one avocado that just didn't ripen. 

The Best
  • This Italian wedding soup (featuring kale and fennel) was a huge hit with the entire family.  It wasn't super easy to make, but the savory, fennel flavored broth was worth every bit of effort.

 The Good
  • Valentine's dinner started with a lovely parsnip soup.  This flavorful soup - with a little olive oil drizzled on as garnish - will definitely be put into rotation when parsnips are in the box.

The Rest
  • Though I can't say this featured anything from the box, my other valentine's week goal was to make cinnamon swirl bread for my kids.  It was definitely the most complicated baking project that I've ever taken on, but the final product was amazing.  Can't say that I'll do this every year, but was a fun labor of love for my mini Valentines.
 The dough after its first (of four) rises

 Adding in the 'swirl' mixture

 Filled dough is cut and braided

 Baked loaves

 Delicious swirl bread with golden raisins

Monday, February 13, 2012

Week 45 - Love Like A Sunset

This week, it was easy to pick a theme with Valentine's Day on the calendar.  It has long been a tradition for my husband and me to make dinner at home together, rather than trying to find a babysitter for a mediocre meal out.  With the colorful assortment of produce in this week's box, I thought it would be fun to plan our valentine's meal using these ingredients as the foundation.  Given that two people can't eat all of this at one setting, I also looked for other 'love' inspired recipes that would make use of the box's goodness throughout the week.
In the box this week
(top) lettuce, kale, marjoram, spinach
(bottom) parsnips, fennel, radishes, oranges, avocados, apples, celery

Meals/recipes for the week
In case a couple of the recipes seem mysteriously placed on this week's list, almonds are a symbol of fertility throughout many ages and societies and, well, I'll leave you to guess as to what the Aztecs thought avocados resembled.  Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours!
This week's title is inspired by the song of the same name by Phoenix.

Week 44 in Review

The Score
Eaters - 9     Compost - 1     Carry Over - 0

Although the outcome of the Super Bowl wasn't to the liking of most of my guests (my husband and his visiting family are all from Massachusetts), the food was great!  The box provided lots of great raw materials for our super bowl spread and - in spite of the game's outcome - at least every body who came to the party left with happy, full bellies.  The only downside of using almost the entire box for the party was the fact that there wasn't much left to use for the remainder of the week and that left me a bit unguided for the week's dinners.
Super bowl spread

The baked beans were hearty and delicious

Fennel added an interesting twist to cole slaw

Simple green salad
  • I used up the spinach and onions in a simple saute with garlic and olive oil, and served that over rice with curried chicken and fresh radishes.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Week 44 - Super Bowl Sundae

Since we have a bunch of family members in town, we decided that we'd host a large group for the big game.  With our box pick up the day before the Super Bowl, I came up with the goal of trying to incorporate as many of the box's ingredients as possible into our meal plan for the party.  As always, it took a little bit of investigation to find appropriate recipes, but I think our super bowl party will potentially be one of the healthiest, and tastiest, in town. 

In the box this week
(top) lettuce, spinach, marjoram
(bottom) celery, green onions, radishes, oranges, butternut squash, apples, fennel

Recipes for our super bowl party
My husband will also be grilling up some pork ribs and beef brisket, lest anyone think that we're planning to go too healthy.  It's been really fun to plan a party around the box.  Can't wait to see how everything turns out!
This week's title is inspired by the song of the same name by Ozomatli.

Week 43 in Review

The Score
Eaters - 10     Carry Over - 0     Compost - 1

Combining at least two ingredients into each meal or recipe made it rather easy to get most of the box into our bodies this week.  For weeks when I'm short on cooking time, this is definitely the way to go!  I had a fun time making up my own recipe, and ended up taking a planned recipe and worked to make it simpler because I didn't have time to make the original.  Though some of the dill and the celery hit the compost at week's end, everything else was enjoyed.  Each week in this process gets easier and easier, and I feel more and more comfortable experimenting with ingredients that once seemed quite intimidating.

The Best
  • Admittedly, the end result was a bit bizarre looking, but the rainbow potatoes with kale were very yummy.  I started with about 2 lbs. of multi-colored fingerling potatoes, which were cut in half, covered in water + 2", then boiled for five minutes.  I destemmed and coarsely chopped one bunch of kale while the potatoes were boiling.  After the five minutes had passed, I added the kale and boiled the entire pot for another 10 minutes.  Checking to be sure the potatoes were done, the water was drained out of the pot.  I mashed the potatoes together with the kale, then stirred in 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 cup of shredded white cheddar cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and you're done.
Fingerling potatoes in the pot

Coarsely chopped kale

Rainbow potatoes with kale

The Good
  • I used up the rest of the fingerling potatoes that I had bought in this chunky potato soup recipe, which featured celery and dill from the box.  Though soups are always a bit of an unknown with the kids, they really liked this soup.  It went nicely with a lettuce and arugula salad from the box.
  • Once I got ready to make the butternut squash, caramelized onion, and spinach lasagna, I realized that I did not have enough time to follow the recipe.  So, I got the onions caramelizing, and then shredded the butternut squash.  I sauteed the squash with garlic, eventually adding the spinach until I had a nicely cooked vegetable blend.  I layered the no cook lasagna noodles with a jar of homemade tomato sauce, the vegetable mix + caramelized onions, then shredded fontina (and repeated three times - in process view below).  It was light and yummy and well received by the entire family.

  • We didn't end up making the planned scrambled egg recipe, but used up the remainder of the lettuce in a salad with avocados and a few other leftover veggies from the fridge.