This is my first blog which was inspired by joining The Produce Box, a local community supported agriculture group. With a weekly delivery of fresh produce, I have been challenged to create healthy nightly meals using ingredients I may not have purchased on my own.

Below is a compilation of weekly meals using the produce delivered by The Produce Box as well as some other recipes which have inspired me.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Menu July 28-August 3

It's Wednesday and that means Produce Box delivery day!

This weeks box includes 4 Ears of Corn, 6 Peaches, a head of Cabbage, Jalapeno Peppers, 2 Bell peppers, 10 Roma Tomoatoes and as our Surprise Farm Item- a personal Watermelon.

Wednesday- Tonight we are grilling. It's Hotdogs, Grilled Corn on the Cob and Grilled Peaches. For the peaches- slice the peaches and place on heavy duty tin foil sprayed with PAM, mix brown sugar & cinnamon together, sprinkle over peach slices, using approx. 1-2 tsp of vanilla extract pour over peach slices, dot with butter. Seal foil and place on grill for about 7-10 minutes or warmed through. For a richer dessert serve with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Thursday-Since my husband will not be home for dinner, I think it will be a simple meal like breakfast for dinner or maybe grilled cheese sandwiches.

Friday- I will make Homemade Coleslaw to accompany the Steak Fajitas (we just can't get enough-LOVE these!) and Grilled Pepper & Onions. I am sure my husband will want to add some of the jalapeno to our dinner tonight.
I will be planning my weekly stop at either DJ's Berry Patch or Western Wake Farmer's Market to pick up some additional produce items that I'll need for tonight and the next couple of meals. I encourage you to explore your local farm stands and markets. Fresh tasting produce and supporting local farmers are 2 very good reasons to venture out this weekend!

1 head of Cabbage shredded
1/4 pound shredded or julienne Carrots
1 Onion finely chopped
1/2 cup Mayonaise
1 tablespoon Vinegar
2 teaspoons Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Mix Mayo, Vinegar, Sugar & Salt in non-reactivate bowl. Add shredded Cabbage, Carrots and diced Onion. Mix well. Chill before serving.

Saturday-The kids will have Macaroni and Cheese with watermelon while my husband & I celebrate my birthday.

Sunday- I will use the Roma Tomatoes from my Produce Box to make Tomato Sauce. I used this recipe a few weeks back with some minor alterations with rave reviews from my husband.
I altered the sauce recipe by using all the tomatoes in the puree (since my family does not like chunky sauces), 2 tsp dried oregano, 2 tsp dried rosemary, and 2 tsp of basil. I omitted the celery. After 2 hours of simmering, I added 2 tsp of ground pepper and 1 tsp salt. I will use the sauce in my Lasagna, cooked in my Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker in the microwave.

Monday- I will be making Grilled Teriyaki Tuna Wraps, we have made these many times before and love the refreshing meal this makes. Perfect for Summer grilling! I have substituted the arugula leaves with baby spinach.

Tuesday- I am searching for an interesting main course recipe to use up some of these jalapenos. I'll let you know what I find.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The NC 10% Campaign

My weekend menu got flipped around due to the fact that Sunday I am entertaining family. So I just decided to flip the days and made the Haitian Voodoo Sticks Saturday. I decided to serve the remaining Sour Cream Potato Salad with the kabobs to help put out the fire. These sticks are HOT! (and we used half the cayenne called for!) But they are good. I am already planning on making them for my father when he visits. (He likes all meals that have a kick to them.)

We stopped at DJs Berry Patch and picked up some peppers to make my husband's awesome Salsa, green beans for dinner tomorrow and blueberries for a blueberry topping to accompany the NY Cheesecake I'll be serving for dessert tomorrow.

I enjoy buying local- supporting community agriculture, supporting our local businesses and farmers among many other reasons. I came across this campaign to help build NC local food economy. The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) is leading the 10% Campaign. North Carolina Cooperative Extension agents are supporting the 10% Campaign by acting as local foods coordinators in all 100 counties. Help build North Carolina's local food economy by joining the campaign. They are also on Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/nc10percent

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Menu July 21-July 27

It's Wednesday again which has now become one of my favorite days. Not because it's half way through the week (although that is nice too) but it's The Produce Box delivery day!

This week we got a fruit heavy box. Our box includes 1 Watermelon, a Sprite Melon, 7 Peaches, 2 striped (Korean) Melons, Cherry Tomatoes, Potatoes, 2 Butternut Squashes and Heirloom & Yellow Tomatoes. My box also held a pleasant surprise, a Carolina Crisp Peanut Bar.

I've already put together a delicious fruit salad. I have 3 different recipes I am eager to try. Maybe I can stretch this fruit to make all 3 this week? I began my fruit salad journey first with Honey Fruit Salad.
As with any fruit salad, it's very versatile in that you can put together any combination of your favorite fruits. My salad has from my Produce Box, watermelon, sprite melon, striped melon and peaches. I did omit the poppy seeds. The fruit salad has been a refreshing snack and side dish with all the hot weather lately.

Wednesday I am keeping dinner simple with Bacon Cheeseburgers topped with slices of tomato, Garlic Grilled Potatoes and Fruit Salad.

Thursday will be Sour Cream Potato Salad made with half the potatoes and cherry tomatoes (Boil potatoes until tender, Quarter potatoes, Mix mayo and 1/2 cup of sour cream into potatoes, add 2-3 cut up hard boil eggs, cherry tomatoes, 3 chopped green onions, bacon bits and shredded cheddar cheese) and Chicken Cordon Blue Sandwiches (for simplicity I used a frozen breaded chicken breast, after heating add a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss cheese).

Friday my daughters and husband have their Daddy-Daughter evening so depending upon my mood it's either take out, maybe Sushi?, or breakfast for dinner (eggs over onion potatoes- Produce Box potatoes of course).
I suspect by now the Honey Fruit Salad will be gone. With the remaining watermelon, peaches, and melons, I will make another fruit salad variation, Glazed Fruit Bowl. I will not be using pineapple, so I will be using water to replace the pineapple juice. Also per another Allrecipes reviewer, I will use instant pudding mix.

Saturday I will be making Butternut Squash Casserole to accompany Cranberry Pork Chops. I intend to use my Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker in the microwave to avoid heating up the house too much. I also plan to use cran-raisins, apricot preserves and I will spoon the mixture completely over my pork chops rather than make stuffed pockets.

Butternut Squash Casserole- from Williams-Sonoma
4 cups butternut squash puree
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 cup vanilla wafers, crushed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly grease a casserole dish (4 - 6 cup capacity).
2. Combine squash puree, sugar, milk, vanilla, orange extract, salt, flour, eggs and melted butter. Pour into the prepared casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until set.
3. Meanwhile, make the topping. In a medium bowl, combine crushed vanilla wafers, melted butter and the brown sugar. Sprinkle over top of the cooked casserole and return to the oven to brown for an additional 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.

Sunday will be Haitian Voodoo Sticks (aka Beef Kabobs) served with grilled tortillas, corn on the cob (picked up at DJ's Berry Patch or Western Wake Farmers Market over the weekend) and either sour cream or I'll use Yah's Best Herbal Delight to make a sauce (I received a sample in a previous weeks Produce Box).

Monday will be either leftovers or pizza. I think my girls will be rooting for pizza!

Tuesday by now most of my Produce Box should be consumed. I foresee some potatoes, if they haven't gotten cooked with breakfast over the weekend, and cherry tomatoes, if they weren't used up in the potato salad or kabobs. So I will wait to see how the week goes before deciding on Tuesday's menu. Got to know what I have before I can make it, right?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Finding a Good Black Bean Salad Recipe

As blogged earlier, Monday's menu consisted of Marinated Chicken Fajitas using the marinade from the steak fajitas we had last week. Along with grilled peppers (from my Produce Box) and onions (from DJ's Berry Patch). After slicing the peppers and onions, we drizzled with some olive oil, dash of balsamic vinegar and then grilled them.

I found a Black Bean Salad recipe which also used fresh corn that I had picked up at the farm stand as well. This salad appealed to our palate much better than the corn and black bean salad we made last week.

If you follow the link, note the information above the recipe which outlines the basics to any black bean salad. So you can adjust to your family's liking. For this salad, I omitted the avocado and replaced the jalapenos with ground cumin.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Butternut Squash Risotto-Success!

Today I made Butternut Squash Risotto. I decided since the recipe I originally found was very similar to my old stand by risotto recipe, to use my regular recipe with a few additions. First, I added 2 cloves of minced garlic to the onion. Second, I added cinnamon and nutmeg to my mashed butternut squash. Last, I only used a 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. By the way my old and reliable risotto recipe can be found on the side of Harris Teeter Arborio Rice.

With the assistance of my husband, the risotto was served with Grilled Shrimp Skewers (we omitted the apple). (We have made this grilled shrimp before and loved it.) I added some fresh cut tomato to my risotto for a little color. And really who can resist farm fresh tomatoes? Overall dinner was a great success!

On a side note, my girlfriend and fellow Produce Box recipient made Butternut Squash muffins. Note to self, get that recipe!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Notes on Saturday's Menu

Well today began with Blueberry Muffins. My children gobbled up the muffins and I thought they were tasty. However, I think I will still search for a better muffin recipe. I liked the addition of lemon zest to the blueberry muffin, it paired well. I enjoy a real sweet cake like muffin which I felt this recipe lacked.

This evening I prepared the Peachy Chicken and served it with Garlic Red Potatoes and fresh green beans. The potatoes were suppose to be grilled which imparts a wonderful flavor as well as gets the potato slices nice and crispy. But alas, Mother Nature had other plans, some much needed rain (yeah for the rain, boo to no grilling). They still were good cooked in the oven. One of my girls loved the chicken but my picky daughter did not care for it. I think it may have had too much ginger flavor for her. I think I may tweak this recipe and omit the Asian flavor for more of a pure peach sauce.

Three cheers to fresh local produce!!! I picked up green beans, potatoes, garlic, onions and pickling cucumbers at DJ's Berry Patch this morning. Those green beans tonight were fabulous! I boiled them for a few minutes added some butter and salt. Can't get much simpler or better. Yummy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cooking Inspiration

Cooking inspiration has many sources- cooking shows, magazines, a trip to your farmer's market and sometimes right in your own kitchen! I had 2 zucchinis I bought at a local farmer's stand that were on their way out. I also had some bananas which were very ripe. What to do?

Make Banana Zucchini Bread, of course. I omitted the cranberries and nuts. I also added a dash of nutmeg, allspice and ground cloves and used 3 bananas and 1 cup of zucchini (that was all I could get from my 2 small zucchinis).

July 14th - July 20th Menu

Wednesday is Delivery Day!
I was delighted to get my Produce Box early today. Why? Because that means we can have watermelon with lunch!

This weeks contents include a personal Watermelon, a pint of Blueberries, 7 Peaches, 2 Bell Peppers, a basket of Roma Tomatoes, Butternut Squash, 4 small Japanese Eggplants, 2 small White Eggplants and 2 Pickling Cucumbers.

Our family schedule this week keeps us apart for a few nights which in turn means leftovers Wednesday (to make room in the fridge) and possibly take out Thursday.
So the watermelon will be gobbled up with lunches, breakfast and snacks along with some of the peaches. Over the weekend I will make fresh Blueberry Muffins.

Our first meal made with our Produce Box will not occur until Friday with Eggplant Parmesan and homemade sauce using the 2 white eggplants, a pepper and the roma tomatoes. I will be making my tomato sauce for the first time. I altered the sauce recipe by using 10 tomatoes in the puree and 3 for the chopped tomato, 1 tbsp dried oregano, 1 tbsp dried rosemary, and 1 tbsp of basil. I actually forgot to pick up celery at the market so I omitted them. After 2 hours of simmering I added 2 tsp of ground pepper and 1 tsp salt. Since my family isn't especially fond of chunky sauce, I used a potato masher to smooth out some of the chunky pieces. The sauce was a success! And the white eggplants delicate flavor enhanced the meal. Husband gave it 2 thumbs up!

Saturday I will be using a fellow Produce Box's recipe for Peach Chicken using the rest of my peaches. We will have Garlic Grilled Red Potatoes and green beans with dinner. I hope to get those ingredients at a local farmers market, DJ's Berry Patch or Western Wake Farmer's Market.

Sunday I will make Butternut Squash Risotto with Shrimp and possibly a side salad or loaf of bread. I have made risotto in the past with pleasing results. I am eager to taste how this recipe will turn out.

Monday will be marinated chicken fajitas using the marinade from the steak fajitas we had last week. I told you it was DELICIOUS! Along with grilled peppers (from my Produce Box) and onions. I'm also thinking of a corn and bean salad again if I can find a different recipe or modify and tone down last weeks side. UPDATE: I found a Black Bean Salad recipe which I will make Monday.

Tuesday is Asian Peanut Noodle Toss.
Taste of Thai Peanut Noodle Toss Recipe
1/2 Box (8 oz) Rice Noodles
1 TBSP oil
3 cups favorite vegetables chopped (I used 3 of the Asian eggplants, the last pepper & a squash from our garden)
1 tsp Salt
1 13.5 oz can of Coconut Sauce
1 packet (both inner envelopes) Peanut Sauce Mix
1 1/4 lbs chicken or beef thinly sliced

Soak noodles according to stir fry directions. Heat oil in wok over medium high heat. Add vegetables, salt and meat. Saute 3 minutes. Add coconut milk and peanut sauce. Mix. Bring to boil while stirring and boil 3 minutes. Add drained noodles and combine. Cook while stirring until noodles are firm but tender. Add peanuts for garnish.

Delicious Peach Cobbler- Produce Box Recipe

This is the recipe I used for my home-made Peach Cobbler not only did I use the peaches from my Produce Box but I also used the recipe they printed in their accompanying newsletter. Yet another reason I like the Produce box, they send a newsletter with each delivery telling you about your box contents and different recipes to make with your box. This was my first attempt at Peach Cobbler and everyone loved it even my husband who doesn't care much for peaches!

Delicious Peach Cobbler
4 cups of peeled, sliced peaches
2 cups sugar divided
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups self rising flour (if you don't have any you can easily make some- I did using a google search)
1 1/2 cups milk
ground cinnamon, optional

-Preheat oven to 350
-Combine peaches, 1 cup of sugar & water in saucepan and mix well. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
-Put butter in a 3-qt. baking dish and place in oven to melt.
-Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon, if desired.
-Bake for approx. 1 hour
Can be served with whipped topping and/or ice cream. Refrigerate left overs.

July 7- July 12 Menu

Wednesday is Produce Box delivery and therefore begins my week's worth of menus.

Wednesday was Ratatouille Pasta with sausage. I added pan fried cut up Italian sausage to this meal for my husband, who enjoys having some kind of meat in his dishes. A loaf of bread and a bottle of red accompanied this delicious meal.

Thursday's meal consisted of Zucchini & Corn Cakes made with fresh corn from my Produce Box. Honey Mustard Seasoned Chicken (4 chicken breasts pounded, placed in my Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker with Honey Mustard Dressing spread over them & microwaved for 12 minutes) and home-made Peach Cobbler (recipe to post later) for dessert rounded out our meal.

The chef was off Friday as we celebrated my daughter's first day of school with dinner out.

Saturday was the first time I cooked or for that matter ever tasted spaghetti squash. I used the spaghetti squash from my Produce Box and cooked up Spicy Spaghetti Squash with a few alterations. I used chop meat in place of the ground turkey and I omitted the capers since I did not have any on hand. I also roasted the squash first instead of microwaving it. (Halved the squash, spoon out the seeds, a TBSP of butter in each, sprinkled some oregano and garlic powder over each half and roasted for about 1 hour) Again some artisan bread from my local supermarket and a bottle of red paired well with this first time meal. The squash had a slightly crunchy texture but was delicious and mimicked spaghetti noodles rather well.

Sunday my darling husband gave me the night off and prepared a Southwestern inspired menu of Corn and Black Bean Salad, again using a few ears of corn from our Produce Box. We enjoyed trying a cold salad like this however we felt the balsamic vinegar was too strong flavored for us. We also had steak fajitas which had been marinated. These were WONDERFFUL! My husband also grilled up some onion and peppers, of course using one of the red bell peppers from our Produce Box.

Monday I used the last of the corn and blueberries from our Produce Box. I baked Blueberry Pie, I think this may have been the first time I baked a blueberry pie. I altered the recipe based on other reviewers comments and used 1 cup of sugar and 5 TBSP of cornstarch. This is very good warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Dinner I prepared Corn Pudding using a fellow Produce Box's recipe which was served with fried chicken and gravy.

Tuesday I treated myself and my daughters to some take out. Hey we've been eating healthy and at home, we deserve a treat (and a night off)!


I have started this first blog attempt as a means of organizing all the delicious recipes and meals I have been stirring up in my kitchen. My inspiration began with The Produce Box.

Through the recommendation of a neighbor I joined this local Community Supported Agriculture group. The Produce Box delivers locally grown, farm-fresh produce to your door every week during the local growing season.

Since May my family has received one box of farm fresh produce weekly from The Produce Box. Subsequently, we have been catapulted into a realm of nightly and healthy home-cooked meals. We have also begun to travel down a new culinary road creating exciting menus with new and different produce we may not have ordinarily purchased on our own.