Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Spruill Green Market

I've been reading for the last year or so about CSAs, Community Supported Agriculture, where you own a 'share' in a farm and the produce they grow. Typically you get a weekly box of food from the farm for a fee, around $20-$30. I looked around last year, but it was at the end of the season and none of the CSAs were really convienent to us. I located one near Perimeter Mall, where I work, but we were unable to get involved. However, we did sign up for a newsletter and because it is currently 'peak of the season' they have extra boxes right now, so I picked up our first box from Spruill Green Market, which is located at the Spruill Gallery. For $25, we have a box full of tomatoes (cherry, beefsteak, and heirloom), squash and zuchinni, beans, and peppers. I am so excited to try our produce and I love the fact that we're supporting a local farm. They also had eggs available (chicken and duck) that I'd love to try. There were several vendors set up and they all had beautiful produce. It's such a great idea to buy locally and it seems to be getting easier to do that.

Hopefully we'll be making some great recipes in the next few days with our fresh veggies! I'll be sure to share...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


As I mentioned yesterday, I love Mexican food. One of my favorite things is fresh cilantro. The smell, the taste, I just can't get enough of it. Cilantro seems to be one of those flavors that people either love or hate, but I'm definitely in the love camp! One interesting thing about cilantro is that the stems can be included when you're chopping it up. A lot of herbs have bitter or tough stems, and cilantro is one of the few that doesn't. It makes it a little easier to be able to just throw the stems in rather than picking all the leaves off.

Watching Food Network last weekend, I saw a chef who just kept her fresh cilantro in a glass of water out on the counter. I tried it with a bunch that I got on Sunday (I had to buy it, our cilantro plant didn't fare so well in our herb pots). I don't know that it prolonged the life any, but it sure did smell good and it looked pretty. A good alternative to just sticking it in the fridge!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mexican Pizza

I love Mexican food. I could seriously eat it almost every day and be happy. Unfortunately, Griff doesn't share my love, although he does like it and he eats it often just because he knows how much I enjoy it. This is a recipe that's not overly Mexican. It has a sweet cornbread crust (thanks to Jiffy!) and is topped with seasoned beef and vegetables. I like to top it with sour cream and taco sauce and I decided last night that next time I will definitely add avocado.

We make ours in a casserole dish instead of a skillet and we get 6-8 servings instead of 4. The cornbread needed to cook longer, probably about 20 minutes. Last night somebody forgot to add the butter to the cornbread, but honestly we didn't miss it. I also used ground sirloin instead of beef and omitted the oil from when you brown the meat, it just didn't need it.

This is a great, easy (30 minute!) meal and it makes great leftovers.

Mexican Meat-zza: Mexican Deep-Dish Pan Pizza
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray (

2 boxes corn muffin mix, 8 1/2 ounces each (recommended: Jiffy)
2 eggs
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup frozen corn kernels
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
2 tablespoons extra-virgin or vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons cayenne sauce
2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar or jack cheese
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small can, 2 1/4 ounces sliced chillies or jalapenos, drained
2 scallions, chopped
2 small vine ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons drained sliced green olives (salad olives)
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, optional garnish
Mild to medium taco sauce to pass at table, 1 cup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Mix together 2 packages muffin mix with 2 eggs, 4 tablespoons melted butter (melt in microwave 30 seconds), 1 1/2 cups milk and frozen corn kernels. Wipe a nonstick skillet with a little extra or vegetable oil and pour in the muffin mix. Use a large skillet, 10 to 12 inch. Choose a pan with oven safe handle or, double-wrap handle with foil to protect it in the oven. Place pan in oven and bake 12 to 15 minutes in center of the oven until light golden in color.

Brown the meat over medium high heat in a second skillet in extra or vegetable oil, 2 turns of the pan. Add onions and spices and cook meat 5 minutes more.

Remove cornbread from oven and top with meat, cheese, and veggies. Add pan back to oven and cook 5 minutes more to melt cheese. Garnish with cilantro, optional. Cut into 8 wedges and serve the deep dish pan pizza from the skillet. Pass taco sauce at the table to sprinkle on top.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Reason I Drink Coffee

I had seen Peets Coffee as one of 'Oprah's Favorite Things' a couple of years ago. Griff loves coffee and had recently taken to trying different brands (straying from his regular Folgers), so I decided to get him the sampler pack (6 different kinds) from Peets for Christmas last year. This turned out to be a bigger gift to me than to him, as I instantly fell in love with this coffee. I went from a very occasional coffee drinker to someone who has to have it every morning. And not just any kind, but specifically Peets. I've tried other flavors and they've all been exceptionally good, but my favorite so far has remained the Arabian Mocha Sanani, the very first one I tried. It has such a great flavor and I can't wait to have my cup each morning. I also highly recommend the Sulawesi-Kalosi, which is what we're drinking now.
Unfortunately, there's not a Peets near us, but their mail order has been great and I've managed to get free shipping every time I've ordered so far (sign up for their emails and you get special offers every month or so).

Ravioli Caprese

Last night was my first attempt at making homemade pasta and it couldn't have been easier. The pasta itself was made of only flour and water and since we were making ravioli, all we had to do was roll out the dough and use our ravioli cutter. The filling was made of cheese and chicken and the sauce was a really light combination of olive oil, basil, and lemon. The recipe is from Giada - Everyday Italian (I saw her cooking it Saturday on the Food Network). I always get inspired when I watch the Food Network!

The recipe was great and easy (homemade pasta in under an hour!) and I'd definitely make it again. Actually I can't wait to experiment with other types of ravioli now that I know how simple it is!

Ravioli Caprese
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup very hot water

3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
1 egg
1/2 cup finely shredded store-bought rotisserie chicken
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the dough: In a large bowl combine the flour and the water. Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine into a large ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.

For the filling: Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine.

To form the ravioli, cut the dough into 4 evenly sized pieces. The dough should be slightly sticky. Add extra flour as necessary for rolling, but use only a little as necessary. Form each piece into a 2 by 6-inch rectangle. Recover the dough with the plastic wrap.

Lightly dust the work surface and a rolling pin. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll the dough into a 4 by 19-inch rectangle. Place 9 rounded teaspoons of filling about 1-inch apart down the center of the dough. Fold the dough over the filling. Press down around the edges of each of the ravioli with your fingertips. Cut the ravioli into small squares and press down around the edges again with your fingertips to seal. Place the finished ravioli on a baking tray and continue forming the remaining ravioli.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add half the ravioli and cook until the ravioli float stirring occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain into a large bowl and cook the remaining ravioli.

Pour the olive oil over the cooked ravioli. Add the basil, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Gently toss to coat and serve immediately.

The Start of Something New

We love to cook and have decided to document some of our favorite recipes, new and old, as well as other food related things. Griff and I will both be posting here and we hope to include lots of pictures! Please let us know if you have any suggestions or ideas for us!