Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Simple Tomato Soup


This is not my recipe. But every time I make it, I have to double check the recipe because I’m convinced I’m forgetting something. It is so simple and so good. Even Sabrina drools over it and that child isn’t a big fan of anything that involves tomatoes. And that is almost all there is to this soup! Use the good tomatoes. I usually do 3 cans rather than 2 – leftovers. And there is enough butter and onion to carry 3 cans. I do add an extra couple dollops of 1/2 and 1/2. And I top it with a little swirl of basil flavored olive oil. I sometimes add in some fresh basil when I’m pureeing the soup but I’ve found the oil adds just enough without adding the leaves. So whatever your preference is. I know not everyone has basil olive oil on their counter. (I might have a slight addiction to a store around here that sells flavored olive oils and vinegars. Makes salad dressing oh so fun. My current favorite is the roasted red pepper blackberry vinegar. Yum! Also a little basil oil and a little lemon or orange flavored oil drizzled over a piece of fish before broiling adds a really bright flavor.) Okay, enough. I don’t have to yammer on. I’m really only doing this post so that *I* can find it when I need it. The blog, where it originated, was down the last couple of time I tried to check it. But to give credit where credit is due, this recipe comes from Laura’s Best Recipes. Her recipe and directions follow: (I will add 1 more thing – you all remember that I have trouble shutting up – I like a few curls of parm or asiago on top too)

Creamy San Marzano Tomato Soup

  • 1 stick of organic, unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • Sea salt
  • 2 (28 oz) cans of certified San Marzano whole, peeled tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (plus more if desired)
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

In a large soup pot, melt the butter on low heat. Add the thin slices of onions and coat with the butter. Season generously with sea salt. Make sure the heat is at its lowest setting, cover and allow onions to cook for about 30 minutes until soft and translucent.  Use that low heat so the onions don’t brown. You want them soft and sweet.

Add San Marzanos and their juices to the onions. Increase the heat just a touch to allow the mixture to simmer. Cover and allow to cook for 30 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor (I used my Vitamix) and blend in batches.  Slowly pour a portion of the cream into each batch until you’ve reached a desired creaminess.  Taste as you blend and season with sea salt and pepper.

Serve very hot.

The tomatoes I use (because they are what I can find)


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Sugar Nation


Don’t get me wrong. I love me some sweet treats. I’m all about chocolate. And ice cream is a food group in my world. Sometimes fruity skittles turn my crank. All things in moderation – yada yada. I loved this blog post about taking the holidays down a notch. I totally agree. I saw someone on facebook asking how to make St. Patrick’s day more special for her (Guatemalan) children. She had never made a big deal out of it before but everyone else was so she wanted to do it for her children too.

My poor kids. We have a few special traditions. I do the damn elf at Christmas. (I hate that elf…it doesn’t help modify their behavior. It only modifies mine as I wake up in a cold sweat at 3am with the realization that I forgot to move the damned thing again.) I made an advent tree that we put up and enjoy every year. Ummm…that might be where it ends. I don’t decorate for any holiday that doesn’t end in -mas. I don’t go over the top for anything. The bar is very, very low in our house.

But many of my fellow moms don’t share my lazy, low bar setting tendencies. Every freaking holiday and psuedo-holiday results in candy. Look at this:



The pottery bowl on the left is full of left over Halloween and Christmas candy (after them eating some and me throwing a decent amount away). The bowl on the left is Valentine’s Day candy and the felt basket is half full from my youngest’s egg hunt at pre-school. I remember it being a big damn deal when someone included a lollipop in a Valentine card back when I was covering a shoe box with tin foil. It was rare and quite exciting. Now almost every Valentine includes a candy treat. A few were tattoos instead but most were candy. I’m guilty – my girls picked out Valentine’s with candy this year. Last year, Tessa gave out tattoos and Sabrina gave out Hello Kitty magnets but this year they wanted to choose.

Treats have stopped being treats. There was rarely candy in my house growing up. Easter and Halloween was it. Otherwise, there was a dearth of chocolate. I feel like I am constantly having to be the sugar police. The girls request treats daily. I allow them what I believe is a reasonable amount of junk food (some would say none is reasonable…but having grown up with it being off limits, I have struggled my entire life with finding a balance so I am trying to teach it to my children). Part of my just wants to throw all of this away then it stops being an issue. But I have trouble throwing away food and I tend to recycle it. The Halloween and Christmas stuff will go into Easter baskets and plastic eggs. What isn’t eaten will be given out at Halloween (yes, our house might not give out the freshest candy – watch out for those taffys and tootsie rolls HA). But I am weary of all of this candy constantly coming into my house (I don’t mind some but come on – look at the volume). I am weary of telling my children no several times a day when they ask for a treat. I am sad that a sweet little Valentine isn’t enough of a token any more and everything requiring candy or even a whole treat bag.

What do you do with the piles of candy? Do you give your child(ren) free access to it just so it will be gone? Do you limit it? Do you throw it away?

posted under food, parenting | 18 Comments »

Curried Meatballs


From a food blogging point of view, this is an ugly post. The photos are of left overs and not well done. But we just love these meatballs and I wanted to share the recipe.

I’ve made these meatballs 4 times now (I’m going to put the text of the recipe here only in case the other blog disappears – I don’t want to lose the recipe but please know it is not my own recipe) with very minor changes.  I have never made them with 3 pounds of meat. I’ve used 1 lb and the whole sauce recipe and I’ve used 2 lbs and doubled the sauce recipe. The original recipe is paleo – my way is not because I love a little filler in my meatballs. Some bread crumbs or crushed crackers make a better texture for my non-paleo pallet. This recipe can be made gluten free easily – I made them for my MIL with 3 or 4 pieces of toasted gluten free bread (2 lbs of meat) and then pulsed them into bread crumbs in my food processor. Serve over brown rice or quinoa.

Curried Meatballs (via Everyday Paleo)


1 lb ground beef (or chicken or pork)

2 slices bread pulsed into crumbs or 1/2 sleeve ritz crackers, crushed

1/4 cup sweet onion diced finely or 5 green onions including some of green part, sliced

1/4 cup apple, peeled and diced finely

1 egg

1 1/2 Tbl curry powder

salt and pepper

I put it in all in my kitchen aid to mix it together because I hate dealing with raw meat. Then I use my cookie scoop to make the meatballs but whatever works for you. Bake at 350 degrees for 20- 25 minutes.


2 Tbls coconut oil (I’m sure something else would work but I have some in the cupboard so I’ve been using it)

1 large or 2 small crushed garlic clove

1.5 Tbls honey

2 Tbs curry powder

2 Tbs tomato paste

1/2 cup chicken broth

Saute the garlic in the coconut oil for a minute. Add everything through the tomato paste and whisk together. Whisk in the broth and allow to simmer. Throw the meatballs in after they come out of the oven and cover. Cook for 5(ish) minutes then serve. I’ve also added peas into the sauce and that was yummy too.

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Black Bean Soup


I was telling a friend about this soup I made while my mother in law was in town. (She has a vitamix and I was thinking how silky smooth it would be after a blast in the vitamix.) She waved me off and told me to just blog it. She didn’t even want to hear about it. She likes the quick reference of the blog so here it is. (Mother in law in town for a week. Guess how many pictures I took? None. I suck.)

Doesn’t look very appetizing, does it? This is the last of the left overs. I didn’t even have a dollop of sour cream to put on top to make it a little prettier.

Black Bean Soup

1 lb dried black beans

1 ham hock (or pieces of cubed ham)

1 envelope ham bullion/flavor concentrate (I use Goya) – optional…I like the flavor it adds

1 can diced tomatoes (rotel would also be good)

1 sweet yellow onion

2 medium carrots

2 stalks celery

1 red or orange bell pepper

2-3 Tbs cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 Tbs chili powder

1 tsp ground chipotle pepper (or a few shakes cayenne)

4 garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

1 32 oz carton reduced or no sodium chicken broth

2 cups water

2 Tbs red wine vinegar or juice of a lime

If you have fresh cilantro, throw it in when you puree the soup.

First, soak your beans overnight. Give them with lots of room to expand in the water. Drain them when you are ready to cook.

All of these things are going to end up pureed so you can either dice them in your food processor/blender before you add them to the pot or let them cook in chunks and then puree them with the soup. I put them all the veggies and garlic through the food processor and then gave them a quick saute in the bottom of my soup pan. After they softened, I threw in everything else. Cover and let it all cook for 90(ish) minutes until the beans are very soft.

Here is the tricky part: getting it all pureed. First take out the bay leaves and throw them away. Then remove the ham hock. If you want to take pieces of meat off, do that and return the meat to the pot after you’ve pureed. If you are just throwing in ham pieces, do that after pureeing too. Pureed meat = gag. I have a stick blender but it is pretty cheap and doesn’t do a great job. So I thought I would use my Ninja blender. (Prior to this it was just a smoothie maker.) I put too much hot soup in several times and burnt myself and made a big mess. Add more water during blending if it seems too thick. Find a safe way to get it blended…I like it silky but others like it more rustic (read: chunky). Garnish with whatever sounds good: sour cream, cheese, avocado, etc. Enjoy!

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Another CSA update


CSA pick up is Wednesday mornings and I get so excited. It is so fun to see what the box contains each week. I try to snap a photo of it all before I put it away.

I’ve not been updating the CSA thing regularly. Mostly because I don’t have anything interesting to say. I’ve made some yummy things and a few more average things. I roast a lot of veggies because I’ve found just about everything tastes decent when tossed with a little olive oil and roasted for 20-25 minutes at 425*. I’ve been eating a lot of vegetables that I’ve never been a huge fan of but if roasted or cooked in ways that involve cheese, I’ll eat it. For those who are thinking about doing one and like seeing what might be in their box every week, this might be interesting. For everyone else? Snooze fest.  I’ve been documenting for my own information as well as for some people who talked about being curious if they would like doing it themselves.

A large purple cabbage, sugar snap peas, beets, green onions, patty pan squash, blackberries, 1/2 dozen eggs, 2 packages of bratwurst, and pork chops.

I didn’t use the whole cabbage – I made a slaw type thing with 1/2 of it but it is harder to eat raw than some other cabbage (harder to shred and chew). I don’t tend to like cooked cabbage so I wasn’t sure what to do with it. The blackberries didn’t make it through the day. The brats are yummy. The chops were good but a little fatty. Roasted the beets (for Steve – blech) and the squash (which I always thought were just decorative gourds for Thanksgiving – oops). The snap peas I threw in something along the way.

Cherry tomatoes, corn on the cob, eggplant, patty pan squash, onion, eggs, dragon tongue beans, white cucumber, 2 packs of chicken breast, and italian sausage.

The dragon tongue beans were so pretty before they were cooked – whitish with purple streaks. The streaks fade when cooked and they taste a lot like green beans. We LOVE the italian sausage – so good. The chicken was good – we grilled it. The corn was fine (let’s not discuss the huge worm that I cooked in one – the world of no pesticides – eeekkk) but just isn’t as sweet as the corn up north. Sadly through a calamity of errors (aka life), the eggplant didn’t get eaten. Steve brought home a huge zucchini from someone at work and I did with it what I intended to do with the eggplant. I sliced it, breaded it with mix of 1/2 breadcrumbs and 1/2 parmesan cheese, then baked it. (Then our a/c went out in the middle of the heat wave and I didn’t cook for 4 days because it was too stinking hot so the eggplant got too soft.)

 Dragon tongue beans

2 packs of chicken quarters (with the legs attached), green beans, napa cabbage, tomato, that yellow thing is a little melon, rutabaga, red potatoes, eggs.

The chicken is in the freezer. I ate the napa cabbage as a salad with some oil and vinegar (really a fan). The tomato went into some sauce. The melon was okay but nothing to rave about. The beans and potatoes were side dishes on different nights.

Cherry tomatoes, green beans, tomatoes, dill, ground beef, onion, chuck roast, patty pan squash, red potatoes, white cucumbers, and eggs.

The roast was yummy in the crock pot. The usual treatment for everything else. The ground beef – 1 pound is in the freezer, the other went into spaghetti sauce as did the 2 big tomatoes.

We don’t eat raw tomatoes much so I was at a loss as to what to do with all of the cherry tomatoes. Then I decided to make a simple spaghetti sauce. I halved them, put in a whole bulb of garlic with the top cut off, tossed with some olive oil and some salt then put them, covered, in the oven at 400*.  Cook for 40 minutes. Remove the bulb of garlic and allow to get cool enough that you can squeeze the cloves out and into the tomatoes. Throw in some basil, red wine, a little bit of brown sugar, a dash of cayenne, some salt and pepper. Use your immersion blender (or you could throw it into food processor/blender) to smooth it into a sauce and let simmer for 10 or 15 minutes more. Steve and I decided it would be perfect with a little pancetta thrown in but it made a really nice sauce.  I didn’t take an after photo. Oops. This is before it went into the oven.

That is all of my CSA news. I forgot to take a photo of today’s box. It was more of the same with some grapes as the surprise. I will say it takes more time in the kitchen to cook with so many fresh ingredients (a lot of washing and chopping and roasting and stirring) but I’m enjoying it for the most part.

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CSA update


I haven’t been updating about my CSA as often as I should. It got a little monotonous this winter with the greens…not sure that we will do it again for the winter season but really glad we tried it because it pushed us to eat new things. Spring/summer season began 3 weeks ago. It is now a weekly delivery and I’m loving the variety. We get a 1/4 bushel (large shoebox they say) of veggies plus 1/2 dozen eggs and 2 meat shares each week. We received strawberries a couple of times which excited Sabrina and I…otherwise mostly veggies. Here was last week’s share:

There was lettuce, broccoli, purple cauliflower (gorgeous color), a choy of some sort, beets, spring onions, a kohlrabi, 1/2 dozen eggs, 2 packages of italian sausage, and a chicken. No recipes to share from this. I roasted the chicken one night and also a bunch of the veggies. A friend mentioned she roasted the kohlrabi so I thought I would try that. I roasted it with the broccoli and the beets with a little olive oil, sea salt, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese. It was good that way. (I hate beets. That hasn’t changed since childhood. But Steve loves them.)  I find myself just throwing veggies into things randomly now so that other things got used here and there.

This week’s share:

A chicken, ground pork sausage, 2 kohlrabi, orange cauliflower, onions, napa cabbage, beets, sugar snap peas, a zucchini, and eggs.

Tonight, I made a weird sandwich thing that was very yummy. I made my own flatbread (recipe here) which was surprisingly easy to do. Who knew you could make bread in a skillet? Then I made a loose meat concoction – ground beef from the CSA, worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, some random spices. I sliced up the napa cabbage then tossed it with a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. The meat went on the flat bread and a bunch of the cabbage on top of that. It tasted surprisingly good. Steve has requested that it enter the dinner rotation somewhat regularly.

Can’t wait to see what next week brings!

posted under csa, food | 2 Comments »

Orville Redenbacher’s Pop Up Bowls Giveaway


Phew. Sorry about that disappearance. About 8 hours after I declared myself the last (wo)man standing in our house, the dreaded stomach bug hit me and slapped me down HARD. We won’t go into details. Let’s just say I was out of commission for 5 days. I haven’t been that sick any time that I remember. Moving on.

I don’t do reviews very often anymore. There are a variety of reasons for that – none of which are important to anyone except me. When you see me do a review, it is because it is either a product I already love or one I really want to try out. (Most of the products I talk about aren’t sponsored…I have a “Things I’m Loving Right Now” post about half done in my drafts. That one is all me.) MomCentral sent out the invitation to do a review of Orville Redenbacher’s Smart Pop! Pop Up Bowls. I raised my hand and said “Me! Me! Me!”.  I love popcorn. A lot. As in don’t try and eat out of my bowl. You might lose a finger.

We observe a 90 min – 2 hour nap/quiet time around here. Tessa sleeps. Sabrina reads or plays quietly upstairs. Mommy takes a shower, grabs some lunch, and watches something on the DVR gets some work done.  After quiet time, my girls demand a snack. Snack time is deeply ingrained around here and they will accept nothing less than something yummy, crunchy, salty, and fulfilling. They often ask for crackers or pretzels but their absolute, hands-down favorite is popcorn. Popcorn makes any afternoon feel special to them. If it is raining, some popcorn and a Disney DVD turns it into the Best! Afternoon! Ever! as far as they are concerned. I feel better about giving them popcorn than a lot of other snacky foods – it is high in fiber, filling, and lower in calories than most items they request.

My oldest daughter was a cow in her school play and didn’t want to take off the costume.

The Smart Pop! Pop Up Bowls allow you to rip off the side and use the bag as a stand alone bowl. According to Orville Redenbacher’s fact sheet, Smart Pop! has the a lot of benefits:

  • 6 cups of Smart Pop! has only 100 calories
  • 1 serving provides 2 servings of whole grains
  • A new study from ConAgra Foods found that snacking on 100-calories of low-fat healthy popcorn, like Orville Redenbacher’s SmartPop!, leads to less hunger and more satisfaction versus other snacks like almonds or pretzels
  • 100% whole grain, good source of fiber, low in fat, no trans fat
  • A ConAgra Foods study reveals that a daily snack of Orville Redenbacher’s 94 percent fat-free SmartPop! popcorn can help dieters maintain reduced calorie eating plans while still feeling full and satisfied
  • Popcorn is a whole grain. Research shows that consumers who eat popcorn come much closer to meeting the dietary guidelines recommendation for whole grain consumption of three servings a day

As I mentioned, my girls aren’t the only one who like popcorn. I have a minor obsession with it. Don’t go to the movies with me if you want to share because I don’t share my popcorn. I love being able to pop a big bowl of popcorn and eat all the way through it without feeling horribly guilty like I would if I hit the bottom of a pretzel or chip bag. My favorite is kettle corn. I have a thing with salty/sweet and that satisfies both for me.

Now for the giveaway. I’m giving away 10 boxes of Orville Redenbacher’s Smart Pop! Pop Up Bowls (10 commenters will receive 1 box or coupon for a free box). Just leave me a comment and tell me when you like to eat popcorn and if you share. I will draw winners on June 1st after 2pm. There is also a $1 off coupon on their facebook page.

 I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Orville and received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

posted under food, Shopping | 27 Comments »

Cassoulet – but not really


I have no idea what to call this dish. And honestly, I’m mainly blogging it because we liked it and Steve said he will be all sad panda if I can’t replicate so I need to commit it to blog before I forget. Because like many things around here, I made it up. And it isn’t really a cassoulet because that is slow cooked and has duck parts and pork skin and other things we don’t keep in the fridge at Chez Smiles. And you all think I’m fancy because I insist you use real garlic. But because it had pork sausage and white beans cassoulet came to mind so there you have it. How about Cassoulet-ish?


1 lb smoked pork sausage links (you know everything is interchangeable in my recipes what what you have – this was from my CSA)

1 bell pepper – whatever color you prefer…I used red

1/2 sweet onion, sliced thin or diced

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes (I used muir glen brand – and if you are a regular, you know I hate chunks and pureed them)

1 cup chicken broth

1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

1 box frozen, chopped spinach, cooked and water squeezed out – or 1 bag fresh spinach

3 cloves garlic

2 shakes Italian seasoning

Slice sausage into bite sized pieces. Saute. Add onions and peppers. Cook 2 – 3 minutes. Add everything else. Allow to simmer on the stove for 15 minutes. Done.

I served it over cheesy grits (made with some sharp cheddar and smoked paprika). But we decided it would also taste good over brown rice or quinoa. Steve also suggested cous cous but I was less excited by that idea.

It isn’t pretty but was yummy, could be easily made gluten free if you buy GF sausage, and was pretty darn easy to throw together.

**And before someone gets her panties in a twist that I am serving my family gigantic portions (yes, people have commented on those kinds of things), please notice the beans for scale. This is a dessert plate, not a dinner plate.




posted under food | 4 Comments »

Did you know?


Someone pinned a photo on Pinterest captioned about shredding chicken with your Kitchenaid. Did you all know about this? Because if so, we are going to have to talk. You can’t keep secrets like that from me. I didn’t believe it was true when I first read it. I despise shredding chicken. (I usually ask Steve to do it for me as I have several recipes that I prefer shredded chicken as the protein.) It was too good to be true. I was making dinner for a friend who had a death in the family and decided to give it a try. Hot damn if it didn’t work like a charm! I love my Kitchenaid even more than I did before.

The chicken needs to be still warm when you do it. And you can’t throw it all in at once or some chicken might come shooting out of your mixer. Not that I would know anything about that. Make sure you lock it down. Start it at 1 or 2 and finish at 3 speed.  I cut my breasts into 2 pieces and put 3 pieces (1 1/2 breasts) at a time to shred. All that is in the photo above was probably 3 batches I did – I threw it all back in to put in the frig for later.


Whenever I am taking someone dinner after having a baby or for whatever reason, I tend to take this casserole. It is easy (especially now that I can use my mixer to shred my chicken) and tasty. I always make one for us too – although I make ours a little spicier than the ones I make for others. It is basically my chicken verde enchiladas lazy style. Meaning wrapping them was too much trouble so I serve this with a little sour cream and some tortilla chips – no wrapping required!

Salsa Verde Chicken Casserole

1 1/4 lbs chicken, cooked and shredded

1 24oz jar salsa verde (we like medium spice but get mild if you prefer – most jars are 16oz…I then either use 1 and it is drier or use 2 and it is a little soupy)

1 bag frozen corn

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can chopped chiles or jalapenos (depending on your spice preference – chiles are mild)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2Tbl cumin

fresh cilantro if you have it…no worries if you don’t

8 oz shredded cheeses (medium cheddar or mexican blend – whatever you like), divided

Mix all of this together with 1/2 of the cheese. Put it into a 9×9 or 9×12 (spray with Pam first). Top with rest of cheese. Bake at 350* for 30 min. Serve with tortilla chips for scooping or tortilla chips crumbled over the top and a dollop of sour cream.

Before baking:


(Different pans because I made a pan for a friend who just had a baby and one for us.)

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I don’t really do new years resolutions. Neither does Steve. But we did make a goal for the year – we want to do what we can to eat more local food. We’ve been visiting the Nashville Farmers Market in the summers but we’ve been kicking around the idea of joining a CSA (community support agriculture) for a number of years. I’ve been a little nervous about doing it because there are A LOT of vegetables I don’t like. Seriously, a lot. Let’s just start with the basics: tomatoes – hate, peppers – hate. See? Those aren’t even weird items. BUT. Over the past 5 years of being a stay at home momma, I’ve been cooking a lot more. I make a mean salsa and guacamole with tomatoes in them.  And peppers? Green peppers are foul. But recently, I’ve learned that I don’t mind a red pepper (diced small) in some dishes. I always liked cooking but I really enjoy it now. While I’m never going to cook like a pro, I’m pretty good at it. I’ve been learning to like other things that I never thought I would like. Onions? I now buy them by the bag. I’ve always hated onions but not as much now. Zucchini…I’m still luke warm on but I don’t hate it. That is huge progress for me. I’ve discovered that a lot of things I thought I hated were just cooked badly in my childhood years when I was forced to choke them down try them. Have you seen what passes for a pea in the school cafeterias? *Shudder*

That brings me back to the CSA. We had been picking up pamphlets about various CSAs for a couple of years. But we couldn’t commit. Now that Steve is home, we decided to make it a priority this year. We are committed to finding local sources for proteins and produce as often as we can. It can be more expensive – especially the meat. But we feel (for a variety of reasons that I won’t bore you with) it is important. We aren’t being militant in our efforts. Whatever we can do this year is better than what we did last year. And there are still cans and boxes of things packaged who knows where in my pantry. A friend of mine joined a local CSA last year and had good things to say about it. We decided to go with that farm since we knew someone personally who had done it.

I know the local food movement is growing in popularity. And I know a lot of people have the same fears about CSAs and not using all of the food that I had. So I thought I would use my space here to document what we receive and how we use it. Our farm largely raises animals and eggs. They work with over 40 Amish families which provide produce, baked and preserved goods. This allows our CSA to offer a large variety of items to its customers.

Our winter portion is a 1/2 bushel of winter vegetables and preserved items – delivered every 2 weeks. Our summer portion will be 1/4 bushel of produce, 1/2 dozen eggs, and 2 shares of meat (at least 2 meals worth) delivered every week. This week was our first box. Unfortunately, there was a mix up and our box wasn’t on the truck…but the guys threw together some extra stuff for us so that we weren’t completely left out.

Week 1: 2 bags of swiss chard, 1 bag of lettuce, 2 bunches of carrots, 1 loaf whole wheat bread

Pretty non-scary/weird. Neither Steve nor I had ever tried swiss chard before but were willing. I went to twitter to ask what I should do with it. Red Pen Mama said pair it with cannelini beans. Vanderbilt Wife shared a recipe using the stems and bacon. I thought the 2 needed to come together into 1. It was quite yummy – both Steve and I had seconds. The girls were less impressed but did eat the beans.  Here is what I did:

Swiss Chard with white beans and bacon

1 bag swiss chard

2 -3 slices of bacon

2 cloves of garlic

1/3 cup chicken broth

1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

1 T peach basalmic vinegar (or other vinegar on hand)

Salt & Pepper to taste

I decided I didn’t want to use the stems. Mostly because I tend not to like them in lettuce or spinach so it seemed like a good bet I might not like them here. So I cut off the stems and washed the chard. It looks like a lot but it cooks down like spinach.

Chop the bacon into small pieces. Cook it in a large skillet.  Once done, remove the bacon to drain on a paper towel but leave whatever fat is in the pan. Add the minced garlic cloves, allow to saute for a minute and then add the chicken broth. Once the broth is hot, add the chard.

It will cook down in 1 or 2 minutes. Then add the beans. Stir often – allow to cook for approx 7 minutes (this apparently helps the chard not be bitter). Just before time is up, add vinegar and salt & pepper.

The peach vinegar is nice but I think red wine vinegar or whatever else you have would work.

So our first foray into the world of CSAs and new veggies was a success. Steve was a huge fan and I thought it was very good too.

As for the rest of our box, we’ve been using the bread for toast. The carrots will be part of dinner tonight (raw with dip because I dislike cooked carrots) and another night (cooked for Steve and the girls…I’ll try them but not promising anything). And we’ll do a salad with the lettuce and either this side dish again or something else new with the other bag of swiss chard.


posted under csa, food | 5 Comments »
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