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, November 17, 2010

November 17-November 23

This is the last Box of the season! Wow, I can't believe Thanksgiving is around the corner and the year is quickly sprinting to a close. I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in The Produce Box and plan on doing it again next year.

This last Box contains Raspberries, 1/2 lb. Bag of Roasted Peanuts, 1 lb. bag of Baby Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Field Tomatoes and 2 Bell Peppers. I also added on a half bushel box of canning tomatoes.

With a half bushel of tomatoes, I of course will be making an abundance of tomato sauce to freeze. I have adapted the Tomato Sauce to my family's preferences: shredded carrot, omit celery, replace spices with 2 tsp each Oregano, Basil & Rosemary, and after 2 hours of simmering I add 2 tsp pepper & 1 tsp of salt. Also I have pureed most of the sauce since my family perfers a less chunky sauce. This time around I will also be adding one can of tomato paste.

Again I cut the White Chicken Chili from my menu. Oh well I'm sure I will eventually make it, and more than once, during the course of the winter.

Wednesday, November 17- Soup and sandwiches due to extra activities this evening.

Thursday, November 18- The Steak Fajitas from last week got bumped to tonight. Which works out well considering I will need to pick my daughter and her friends up form a Brownie meeting this evening.

Friday, November 19- I will make Warm Bean and Sausage Salad. I believe I have made this in the past and enjoyed it. I will be omitting the olives and substituting the turkey sausage with pork sausage. I will using the spinach provided in my box.

Saturday, November 20- I am in the mood for homemade Fish and Chips. So with my husbands assistance I will be preparing a favorite Alton Brown recipe for the fish. With all the grease I am thinking of perhaps serving a side salad along with the fish in place of french fries. We'll see if my husband approves of that suggestion.

Sunday, November 21- If whole chicken is on sale I think I will pick one up and bake it tonight. I'll serve it with Candied Sweet Potatoes with Apples. I am thinking easy and of course slow cooker comes to mind. Therefore, I will prepare Slow-Roasted Rosemary and Garlic Chicken.

Monday, November 22- Tonight I will prepare Spicy Beef Noodle Bowl.

Tuesday, November 23- This may be leftover evening or take out. With Thanksgiving cooking right around the corner as well as out of town guests arriving, I am going with simple and easy tonight.

**pictures from BHG and Cooking Light for illustration purposes only**

Monday, November 8, 2010

November 10- November 16

As the Produce Box approaches its close of the season I am astonished not only to find ourselves nearing Thanksgiving but also surprised at the abundance of fresh produce which has entered my family's daily life. Although I have always made it a point to serve at least one vegetable with dinner nightly and stock a variety of fruits in the house for snacking, I have discovered a weekly supply of farm fresh produce as provided my family with a much healthier and richer diet.

This weeks Box contains local Apple Cider, 2 Red Bell Peppers, a large Eggplant, 2 heads of Romaine Lettuce, Sweet Potatoes and Tomatoes.

I never made the White Chili so I may decide to throw it on this week's menu. Unfortunately, my homemade cole slaw was rather bitter. I discovered after the fact, that soaking the cabbage for about 20 minutes helps mellow the bitterness. Good tip to know for next time!

Wednesday, November 10- Tonight I will try making a main course salad for dinner. I am altering a recipe I found on Allrecipes.com with some of my own additions.
Southwest Chicken Salad
1 small can corn, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar and Monterey cheese blend
3 tomatoes, chopped
Chopped romaine lettuce
Catalina salad dressing
Southwest Style Chicken
Corn chips

In a large bowl, combine the corn, black beans, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Add dressing and mix well. Cut up chicken and placed over salad. Add corn chips before serving.

I may buy prepared Southwest Style Chicken or if I have the time prepare my own.

Thursday, November 11- Garlic and Thyme Pork Chops and Sweet Potato Casserole will be served this evening.

Sweet Potato Casserole
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup margarine, melted
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and halved
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg white
1 (5 oz) can evaporated milk

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees
2. Combine first 5 ingredients in small bowl, stirring to form streusel. Set aside
3. Place potatoes in pot covered with water. Bring to boil, cover and simmer 30 min or until tender. Drain. Mash in large bowl.
4. Stir in 1 cup of streusel topping, sugar, vanilla, egg white and milk.
5. Spoon into 2-qt. casserole coated with cooking spray. Top with remaining streusel.
6. Bake for 45 min.

Friday, November 12- Swedish Meatballs served over egg noodles will be tonight's dinner, thanks to a weekend excursion to Ikea!

Saturday, November 13- Date Night!! My husband and I are going out on the town so simple microwaved meals for the kids.

Sunday, November 14- Eggplant Rollatini will be attempted tonight.

I will follow my standard Eggplant Parmesan recipe to fry up the the eggplant however, I will cut them length wise. Once fried, I will loosely follow a recipe I found on Allrecipes.com with my additions.
1-2 cups ricotta cheese
1 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 tsp. basil
1 clove minced garlic
8-10 slices prosciutto
Tomato Sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

In a bowl, beat the egg until lightly scrambled. Mix the ricotta in with the egg. Add 1/4 cup mozzarella, 1-2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and garlic and gently combine. Fold in basil just to combine. Do not overmix.

Place a slice of prosciutto on eggplant then place a tablespoon of the cheese mixture on 1 end of the eggplant and roll up tightly. Place the eggplant rollatini into a greased (with olive oil) 13 by 9-inch baking dish, seam side down. Continue with remaining eggplant. Evenly distribute the tomato sauce on top of the eggplant rollatini. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese and bake for 15 minutes.

Monday, November 15- Steak Fajitas with peppers and onions will be served for dinner tonight.

Tuesday, November 16- White Chicken Chili I'll update the blog with my recipe.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November 3-November 9

I did not opt for a Produce Box this week. So that means I am left to my own inspiration and devices to come up with a menu this week. I may venture to the State Farmers Market if I need some fresh produce.

I never had the opportunity to make the Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole. My eggplant was questionable and surprisingly my zucchini had mold. But alas from disappointment I found inspiration and whipped up a very tasty one pot meal, Sweet Potatoes and Stuffing with Pork.
I diced up some of my purple sweet potatoes along with an onion and red pepper. I poured Italian dressing over the vegetables and baked for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. I then pushed the veggie mixture along the sides of the pan and spread stuffing mixture (which was mixed with 1 1/2 cups of water) down the center. I then placed 3 thick cut pork chops on top of the stuffing. I returned the pan to the oven for 45 minutes. Delicious, easy and simple!

Tuesday I made Cheeseburger Bacon Meatloaf with a few modifications. I used one small chopped onion in place of the Onion Onion seasoning and I halved the recipe.

Wednesday, November 3- I plan to make BBQ Chicken Sandwiches served with Cole Slaw.

BBQ Chicken
olive oil and a couple of cloves of garlic pressed in
3 or 4 chicken breasts.
Barbecue Rub

1. Rub oil on to chicken and then rub thoroughly with Barbeque Rub.
2. Place in Deep Covered Baker in microwave for 11 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make barbecue sauce** (see below).
4. When chicken breasts are cooked, take out of deep covered baker and place on cutting
board and fork pull them apart OR cut up with the Salad Choppers right in the Baker. Place
pulled chicken back in baker and add barbecue sauce (about ½ - 2/3 of recipe).
6. Serve with buns.

Sauce: 1 cup ketchup, ¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed, 2 tablespoons Barbecue Rub, 2 teaspoons vinegar
Combine ingredients in (2-qt.) Saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally; remove
from heat. Reserve half of the sauce for serving.

Cole Slaw
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.

Thursday, November 4- The girls will have one of their favorites, Mac N Cheese while I prepare Potato and Ham Soup for myself and my husband. I'll serve both with some fresh bread.

Perfectly Potato & Ham Cheddar Soup
Tastefully Simple Recipe

Perfectly Potato Cheddar Soup Mix
5 cups hot water
1 Tbsp. Bacon Bacon**
1-2 cup cubed cooked ham

Prepare Perfectly Potato Cheddar Soup Mix as directed on package with water. Add remaining ingredients; simmer 30-40 minutes. Makes 5-6 servings.
**if I don't have any Bacon Bacon seasoning left I will substitute bacon pieces

Friday, November 5- My children asked to have spaghetti and meatballs. A simple meal and it will delight my girls.

Saturday, November 6- The Western Wake Farmers Market is having a Fall Craft Fair. Perhaps I'll find a few Christmas gifts as well as inspiration for this weekend's meals. I'm sure I'll pick up some apples and butternut squash. I can make dessert or quick bread with the apples and the squash may be used in my daughter's favorite casserole dish. I'll see if I can find ideas for dinner tonight while I am at the Market.

Sunday, November 7-As long as the day doesn't get away from me, I plan on making Herb-Coated Roast Beef with Gravy (recipe from Woman's Day). I'll serve it with potatoes and green beans.

Herb-Coated Roast Beef with Gravy
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried crushed rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1⁄4 tsp pepper
4 1⁄2-lb top round boneless beef roast
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp oil
1 can (141⁄2 oz) beef broth
2 Tbsp flour
1⁄3 cup dry red wine or beef broth

1. Heat oven to 425ºF. Set a wire rack into a shallow roasting pan (not disposable foil). Mix garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

2. Place roast on rack in roasting pan. Brush with 3 Tbsp mustard and sprinkle with herb mixture, patting it on the mustard.

3. Roast the beef 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Roast meat 1 1⁄4 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted in center of roast registers 140°F for medium-rare. Remove roast to carving board, tent with foil and let rest 20 minutes (temperature will rise to about 145°F for medium-rare).

4. Meanwhile, stir broth into flour in a bowl until blended. Place roasting pan over medium-high heat; add wine and stir to scrape up any brown bits on bottom. Add broth to roasting pan. Stirring with a whisk, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 1 minute, or until thickened. Serve roast with gravy.

Monday, November 8-I am thinking slow cooker meal tonight. White Chicken Chili maybe with cornbread will be tonight's dinner.

Tuesday, November 9- With all these delicious meals, I have a feeling there will be plenty of left overs to finish up before a new Produce Box arrives.