Farmer’s Market Finds

DSC_0353This weekend we went to the Clarksville Downtown Market, and got to experience a completely different type of farmer’s market than what we had experienced before. This one was smaller, calmer and much more friendly. There were fewer merchants, but they were all different, rather than a monopoly on veggies like we tend to see in Nashville. There were also a lot more artisans of handcrafted goods, which was very cool.

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We got a huge bushel of apples that I turned into apple butter and apple pie apple sauce. We also got some heirloom carrots and tomatoes, beautiful, fat zucchini, a huge basket of green beans and a wonderfully colored acorn squash.

DSC_0363I used some of the veggies in a stir fry as a complement to some frozen veggies and leftover rotisserie chicken. I then created a cheesy pasta primavera with whole wheat pasta. There were 8 different types of vegetables that were lightly steamed and delicious and a lighter mozzarella sauce that blended everything together. Recipe below!

By the way, I’m in love with my new camera, and it has a “food” setting on it that helps to bring out some of the beautiful colors. Hence the silly amount of pictures today!

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Pasta Primavera with Market Veggies

Market fresh vegetables, cleaned and chopped to approximately the same size. I used: 1 large zucchini, 1 eggplant, 4 heirloom carrots, a handful of cherry tomatoes, 3 sweet peppers, a head of broccoli, a handful of green beans

3 cloves of garlic, diced

olive oil

2 tbsp white wine of your choice

whole wheat linguine, about a quarter to half of a box

Fresh basil, 1 large bunch, julienned

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

Approx 1/4 cup fresh parmesan or three cheese blend

1/4 – 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

approx 1/2 cup milk (you can substitute soy or almond milk – I did!)

Approx 2 tbsp each: ground sage, ground thyme, dried dill, black pepper

Approx 1 tbsp each: paprika, ground oregano

Approx 1/2 tbsp dried cardamom

Salt to taste

  • Prepare all the veggies, cleaning and chopping. Put all but the garlic in a large bowl. Warm a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil – once around the pan. Then add in the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  • While the pan is warming and the garlic cooking, prepare your pasta pot with water and set to boil. Once  boiling, add in a handful of sea salt and olive oil to add additional flavor to the pasta itself. Then add in the pasta and cook until al dente.
  • Once the garlic is fragrant, dump the bowl of veggies into the pan and toss well. Add another round of olive oil and continue to toss to coat. Top with sage, thyme, dill, and oregano, as well as 1 tbsp black pepper and a pinch of salt. Toss well to coat and cover pan, cooking on medium for 2-3 minutes. After this time, add in the wine, and stir. Then re-cover, and let cook on medium low heat while pasta cooks, stirring occasionally.
  • To make the sauce, first melt the butter in a pot. Once melted, add in the flour, stirring vigorously. Once that creates a paste, add in about 1/2 the milk, continuing to stir. Add in the parmesan and the mozzarella, continuing to stir. Add the rest of the milk, the paprika, 1 tbsp of black pepper and the cardamom. The sauce should be creamy as it melts, and if needed, add a little more milk to increase the creaminess. Continue to stir to evenly incorporate the heat and melt the cheese, as well as preventing burnt cheese on the bottom.
  • At this point, the pasta should be done. Taste test for texture. Drain, and return to the pot. Add 3/4 of the basil to the veggies and stir, cooking just long enough to wilt. Once wilted, add to the pasta, top with the cheese sauce and toss well to coat. Serve with fresh basil on top.

Going Green…

When the hunny is away, the wife will…

Eat salad!

My hunny doesn’t like veggies. Not one little bit. There are a couple that I can get him to eat. Corn, if it’s on the cob, broccoli if it’s only a couple ”trees,” sweet potatoes, if they are fries. Salad, but only when doused in ranch or it’s a caesar with no cheese and minimal croutouns. Just a salad for dinner? No meat or only a small amount of chicken? For-get-about-it. And of course, he has the metabolism of a 12-year-old, so he can get away with it. Sometimes I hate that fact.

So since he’s off doing what he does, I can have a salad for dinner. I’m trying to watch what I eat and not just be on a “see-food” diet, so salad is a good thing. What’s I’ve found though, is that a lot of people who try diets hate salad. But they have this crazy idea in their head that salad is some lettuce and some dressing. And that it’s boring and tasteless and miserable to eat. But one of my favorite things is that you can mix salad with anything. Whatever kind of great flavors you like, it can go in a salad. It doesn’t just have to be tomatoes and croutons.

My salad tonight was a smorgasbord of yummy goodness. I actually made too much, and I’m hoping it will keep in my fridge for a couple days so I can enjoy it again. My salad started out with a mix of romaine lettuce and iceberg lettuce. I like crunchy leaves, but a lot of people like the spicy crispness of arugula. Then some tomatoes went in, followed by dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, bleu cheese, carrots, pecans, and some crumbled bacon. Though not very good all by it’s lonesome, one or two slices of crispy bacon crumbled into a salad adds a nice saltiness and crunch. Everything in moderation people.

So then my salad was topped by avocado (yes, a whole one; I like the green stuff), and grilled (on my George Foreman Grill) chicken breast that was spiced with garlic and some red pepper and black pepper and onion spices. Finally, I took some of the mandarin orange juice, lemon juice, garlic powder, lemon pepper, salt, black pepper, and oregano, mixed it with olive oil, and tossed the salad in a bag so that it was evenly coated. Served with a little bitty biscuit, and I’m a happy girl.

The moral of the story is that a salad doesn’t have to be boring. Mine was bright and vibrant and crunchy and delicious. If you like the flavor of something solo, there is a good chance it could be incorporated into a salad somehow. Ask me, I’ll tell you how.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

There are only two kinds of soup that absolutely need to be served out of a bread bowl. Clam chowder, and broccoli cheese.

Last night, though it wasn’t as cold as I would have liked for soup, we had home-made broccoli cheese soup – in a bread bowl. I saw a pin from one of my girlfriends for a recipe that was supposed to be better than Panera’s version. Therefore, I had to try it.

The ingredients were simple, and the method was simple, and it was pretty much amazing. Though Panera’s is amazing too. This is just amazing in a different way. This was the first time I have ever used cardamom in cooking, and I enjoyed the flavor. It was a sweet, salty, smoky flavor all at once. I think next time though, I would probably add just a little more nutmeg. I am definitely curious to see what other kinds of recipes use cardamom as well though because I bet they’re pretty tasty.

Surprisingly, the fiance didn’t say there was too much cheese! Go figure. I’ll convert him yet. My next adventure is to learn how to make the bread for the bread bowls. I bought these from Wal-Mart for $3 a piece. Decent deal for the ginormous roll of bread, but I would still like to make my own.

By the way, I got the recipe off Mangio da Sola. Here’s the link to my version. Thanks!

Crockpot Pot Roast

Let me just start off by saying that this was soooo good! The meat was just falling apart after I took it out,

The pot roast as I was cutting it and it was falling apart from being so tender.

and everything was perfectly seasoned and the gravy was perfect! But, it’s definitely not as good as mom’s. There’s just something about mom’s cooking that I can’t duplicate.

We’ve had that cut of meat in the freezer for a while, so it didn’t have the same taste as it could have, but oh my goodness it was good. One thing I didn’t realize is that the meat shrinks considerably. It’s a good thing that I didn’t have more people trying to eat!

So I used red potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, the roast, and a can of cream of mushroom soup. It’s really that simple. Oh, and of course a crockpot. I’m sure that a pot with a lid would have worked just as well. It’s a good thing that I have a helpful roommate who is willing to turn off the crockpot for me while I’m at work.

Perfect comfort food.

All put together.