Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dinners for an Outing: A Prairie Home Companion

A couple of months ago, I heard that A Prairie Home Companion was coming to town - and we all love Garrison Keeler.  It is one of my joys in life that the kids enjoy listening to him on NPR as much as I do.  They were thrilled at the idea of seeing a show live, and so I packed us dinners in my beloved Easylunchboxes and off we went!  (Unfortunately, The Hubby had to work late... he was there in spirit)

The Girl's Dinner
The Boy's Dinner
My dinner
I made wraps with roasted chicken, farmer's cheese that a friend gave me, lettuce, pesto for The Boy and for me, and hummus for The Girl.  The Boy had melon, carrots, apple slices, and some Food Should Taste Good chips that I got from BzzAgent (they sent me free items so that I share them and about them - delicious chips, which I have reviewed before).  The Girl had some blueberries, pistachios, carrots, and apple slices. I had some cucumber, apple slices, and blueberries.

It was a great night, with a delicious picnic dinner that was just right for the occasion.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Recipe: Roasted Vegetable and Cheddar Phyllo Pie

Oh, how I am enjoying my CSA!  My fridge is full of vegetables, and I love finding creative ways to use them.

Tonight, I decided to use some leftover Phyllo dough that I had used for my first foray into catering this weekend, so what better than a cheesy and delicious roasted vegetable "pie" made with phyllo dough?  You could use any veggies you have on hand - I used zucchini, yellow squash, an ear of corn, and cherry tomatoes.

My shortcut with phyllo dough is to use butter flavored cooking spray on the sheets instead of tons and tons of melted butter.  It is quicker and less fatty.  If you don't like using cooking spray, you could also use something like an olive oil mister, or you could take the time (and the butter) and brush each sheet with melted butter.

I encourage you to try this - it was fantastic, and the kids loved it, even the cherry tomatoes, which they usually push aside.

Roasted Vegetable and Cheddar Phyllo Pie

1/2 box phyllo dough, thawed (one sleeve of sheets in a box of two sleeves)
1 ear corn, kernals sliced off
1 small zucchini, sliced thinly
1 small yellow squash, sliced thinly
1/2 c cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt to taste
butter flavored cooking spray (or melted butter to brush onto phyllo)
2 c cheddar cheese, sliced

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Toss vegetables in olive oil and a little salt and roast for about 15 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and lower heat to 350 F.
Phyllo layers with cheddar between them
Lightly grease a 8"x10" deep baking dish.  Layer in two sheets of phyllo dough, so that they hang over the sides.  Lay slices of cheddar cheese on top of the phyllo, then spray with butter flavored cooking spray lightly.  Add another layer of phyllo dough, then some more cheese, followed by some more butter flavored cooking spray.  Repeat until you have 4 layers of phyllo and cheese.
A layer of corn and squash.  Other layers also had cherry tomatoes
Add a layer of vegetables, then some cheese, butter flavored cooking spray, and another layer of phyllo.  Repeat until all of your vegetables are layered into the pie.  Top with remaining phyllo and cheese, spraying with more butter flavored spray in between layers.  After all the phyllo is used, fold the sides in so that the top is all layers of phyllo.  Top with a final spritz with butter flavored spray.  Bake for 15 minutes with a cover (use tin foil if your pan does not have a lid) and then remove the cover and bake for an additional 6-8 minutes, or until the top layer of phyllo is lightly browned and crispy.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
A slice of deliciousness

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Recipe: Grilled Summer Squash & Lentil Tacos

The squash are coming!  Thanks to my CSA, I have some of it, and I'm sure there will be plenty more to come.

Tonight, I used my zucchini and summer squash in tacos, with some lentils that the kids and I picked up after sampling them at Costco a while ago.  You could cook up your own lentils, too.
Last week's CSA share
The kids couldn't eat these fast enough.  A total win.

Grilled Summer Squash & Lentil Tacos

2 small yellow squash
1 small zucchini
2 Tbsp taco seasoning
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 c cooked lentils

shredded lettuce
shredded Mexican blend cheese
taco sauce
taco shells

Preheat a grill to medium heat.  Slice squash thinly, lengthwise.  Brush the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with taco seasoning.  Grill for about 3 minutes, and then flip, so that the squash is cooked through.

Mmmm, squash!
Remove from the grill and chop into small chunks.  Combine the grilled squash with the cooked lentils.

Put the filling in taco shells with some lettuce, cheese, and taco sauce.  Enjoy!

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Recipe: Strawberry-Rhubarb Layer Cake

My sister's birthday is July 1, and we always celebrate on the 4th because the whole family is together.  She has ended up with a lot of very patriotic birthday cakes.  Since most of the time, these involve strawberries and blueberries, she has never complained.

This year, I decided to make her something with some of the bounty from my CSA. I was looking for a strawberry-rhubarb cake recipe online, and most of the recipes I found were dump cakes, and not pretty at all.

I came upon this recipe from Eats Well With Others for Strawberry-Rhubarb Dream Cake and knew that I had to make a version of it for my sister's birthday cake.  The recipe was just what I was looking for - fancy and beautiful.  I tweaked the recipe some to suit our needs, but overall, I couldn't be happier with the results.  It was festive, moist, and absolutely delicious.
Fresh rhubarb

Fresh strawberries
Here is my version - though I doubled the recipe, I will post a single recipe because doubling was HUGE. There was too much batter for my poor little mixer.  I had to mix in the last bit by hand in a larger bowl. The recipe I am posting would be enough for one half sheet pan, or two 8x11 pans.  If you make it in one half sheet pan (as I would recommend - I just got a foil one at the grocery store), cut the finished cake in half for layering.

Strawberry Rhubarb Layer Cake
(Adapted from Eats Well With Others)

1 c butter, softened
2 c sugar
5 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 c cake flour
2 c all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 c buttermilk (or 1 1/4 c milk with 1 Tbsp lemon juice stirred in)
2 c diced rhubarb

1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped into small pieces (several strawberries set aside and halved for topping)
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 c sugar

3 cups heavy cream
1 cup mascarpone
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Cool Whip with vanilla pudding mix mixed in, or Cool Whip Frosting (I used the Cool Whip frosting and it was fantastic)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray with flour in it, or cooking spray and dust with a bit of flour.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture, stirring until just combined.  Add in half of the milk. Repeat with the second third of the flour and the remaining buttermilk. Add in the remaining flour and still until just incorporated. Fold in the rhubarb.
Folding in the rhubarb
Spread batter evenly in the pan, leveling with a spatula.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan, unless you have a very large cooling rack that will hold the whole half sheet cake.  Do not fill and layer until the cake is completely cool.

To make the filling, mix the chopped strawberries with lemon zest and sugar.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whip together the heavy cream and mascarpone with vanilla until stiff peaks form.

Cut the half sheet cake in half lengthwise, so that you have two equal rectangles.  Spoon the juices from the macerated strawberries onto the bottom layer and brush to coat.  Spread the remaining strawberry mixture evenly over the cake, then top with the mascarpone cream.  Level the filling with a spatula, and freeze for 10 minutes to set.  Remove from freezer and top with second cake layer.  
First time seeing this at the store, and I got it on a whim - it's great!
Frost with Cool Whip mixed with pudding mix, or with Cool Whip Frosting.  Decorate the top with strawberries and blueberries.  Serve chilled if possible.

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