Sunday, November 20, 2011

CSA, take 2

Well it's that time of the month again.... our CSA delivery!!!

Here's our bounty this time:

This week: Potatoes, Butternut Squash, Kale, Bak Choy, Lettuce, Carrots, Broccoli, Raspberries, Parsley, Sage, Tomatoes, Peppers. I'm very pleased with this bunch!!! The carrots are probably the best I've ever had, which I'm assuming is going to be the case with all of these veggies.

We already used the parsley with the leftover mushrooms we had after the bourguignon. Parsley is a great herb addition to the flavor of mushrooms (especially fresh parsley!).

Butter-roasted Mushrooms:

  • 8-12 oz Baby Portobello Mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 a stick) cut into pats
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • A handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped finely
Cut up mushrooms into desired size (not thin slices, but small enough to be bite-sized) & put in oven-safe dish with olive oil, garlic, & butter. Season to taste with salt & pepper, and cook in oven at 425 F until mushrooms are tender. Add lemon juice & parsley. Serve while hot. 

I'll be sure to update how we end up using our veggies. It's going to be a race against the clock this time, since we'll be gone several days for Thanksgiving (Yay!!!!!). 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mushroom Bourguignon with Friends.

  Me & Camille at Belmont.

Me & Caroline in London. 
One of the highlights of this week was having two of our dear friends, Caroline & Camille, over for dinner. We cooked, ate, drank, talked, & played games together. Nathan & I haven't been able to see either of them for a while because of school & such, so having a chance to spend an entire evening with them was a dream come true. Caroline & I lived together, and she was one of my bridesmaids. Camille is Caroline's  younger sister, with whom I had several classes & enjoyed a lot of my college experience. They are pretty much a sister power-team, and I adore them. We had a lot of fun catching up with one another and laughing with each other. They are both very positive, supportive friends, and I love having that kind of energy in my life. I wish we had dinner with them every week, seriously. 

For dinner, Nathan & I made a pretty tasty meal! We were very satisfied with how it came out. We decided to make a vegetarian Mushroom Bourguignon.... a somewhat intimidating task, but the results were surprisingly perfect! I started making the dish, then quickly realized I needed to also be making biscuits & preparing asparagus, all simultaneously, in order for the meal to be done on time. Without hesitation, Nathan put down his homework and came to work in the kitchen, tackling the bourguignon like nobody's business. I give him full credit for the success of that dish. It was superb. I love having a partner in the kitchen. =)

The stars of the show.

The wine: for cooking & also drinking. It had a nice smokey flavor. 

Nathan getting the bourguignon under way.

My favorite veggie: asparagus.


The spread: Mushroom Bourguignon, Cheddar Biscuits, Roasted Asparagus, & a tasty Salad.

The finished product.

Quick & easy biscuits. 

The amazing salad our friends brought!: Spinach, lettuce, orange pepper, cranberries, almond, goat cheese. YUM.

The bourguignon came from my favorite food blog: Smitten Kitchen.
The asparagus is my go-to side dish: toss asparagus in olive oil, salt, & pepper (all to taste) and pop in the oven at 350-375 degrees F, for as long as you like (the longer the cooking, the crispier the asparagus spears will get!)
The cheddar biscuits were a pretty typical (shortening-less) biscuit recipe with the addition of about 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese.
The salad was the genius work of Caroline & Camille. And it was fabulous.

Thank goodness it's Friday, right?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hot Food for a (unfortunately warm) Fall Day.

This weekend was a weird weekend. Friday was incredibly fun... we had dinner with an old friend (we ate at Taco Mamacita, so I got to see a lot of my dear Taco friends), and then met up with a few Nashville friends at a Harry Potter-themed party to celebrate the release of the last movie. Well, we didn't know that many people at the small gathering, and we ended up in the bedroom just chatting with each other. We decided to ditch the movie-party & instead go to Bosco's for dessert & beer. It was SO fun. We sat around a circular table, me, Nathan, & our awesome friends Marie, Sarah, Lauren, Katherine, & Shelly. Nathan & I got the creme brulee, and it may be the most delicious dessert I've ever tasted.

Saturday I went to a Nonviolent Social Justice meeting & then to a food stamp informational session at the nonprofit where Nathan works, The Nashville Food Project. Both meetings were great. Then I entered a funk. Oh, rollercoaster weekend. Thankfully I got to end the evening with a fun dinner date with my BFF Stephanie & we watched the film adaptation of Rabbit Hole. It was a surprisingly good film! And our dinner was also awesome. =)

Sunday was a day of dreams. Nathan & I enjoyed cinnamon rolls & Harry Potter for the first half of the day. Glorious. And then Yoga & a tasty dinner of Dominos Pizza. Seriously, perfect (and unhealthy, for the most part) day.

Now onto my latest cooking endeavor: Chili & Cornbread.

Funny thing about cooking such a delightful comfort food for dinner--- it was freakin' 70 degrees today... the week before Thanksgiving. What the heck? But, whatever, the chili was still damn good.

Sauteeing the onions with some peppers from our CSA. Didn't realize how hot it would make the dish. I guess I should've known when I started coughing from the fumes.


Oh, heavenly cornbread.

Such a delicious meal... I'll need to make this again when it's actually cold outside.

A little cheddar on top, and perfecto! 

Cornbread is honestly one of the best things. ever.
The chili & cornbread recipes both came from Smitten Kitchen, and they were both simple & delicious.

In other news, the Hillsboro High School christmas tree farm is going up!! Every year, the high school down the road sets up a christmas tree shop in front of the school. I've been waiting for the day when I can have my very own legitimate Christmas tree, and this is finally the year. I can't even put into words how excited I am to enjoy Christmas in this new season of life... I get to share Christmas with my wonderful husband & begin creating our very own family traditions... we're definitely going to have stockings this year- for us AND the cats. I also get to share Christmas with my parents & in-laws, which is a huge blessing that we are very fortunate to have. Of course, I get to share the holiday season with my dearest friends. And, I get to share Christmas with my awesome clients & co-workers. What a great group of people to have in our life for our first Christmas of many, many wonderful holidays to come.

Nathan had to stop by the store on the way home because I forgot onion for the chili... and I convinced him to buy a holiday scented candle. :-) and, I'm going to make these delicious cookies to get myself even more in the mood...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ready for Winter

Today was a great day. I had half of the day off work to come home & relax, which was really what I needed after such a stressful week of work. Then Nathan came home from class & we were super productive!! We took the recycling bins (which were getting way too full) to the recycling center & then went to Home Depot to buy supplies to winterize our apartment. Our apartment complex is really old, so the windows are extremely drafty. We even have a huge sliding glass door in the dining area (I have no idea.... we've never opened it), and you can feel cold air flowing in the house from that door. We shrink-wrapped the windows & glass door to try to keep our energy bill down & our home warmer this winter. It was a really obnoxious process, but we got it done. Hopefully it will end up being worth the fuss.

After being so productive, we enjoyed a simple dinner of soup and watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. We're on a Harry Potter kick right now, and we're not ashamed at all. For dessert, we enjoyed some home-made cinnamon pull-apart bread! It was so delicious. I would like for every evening to be like tonight was- cuddling with my husband, watching Harry Potter, & eating cinnamon pull-apart bread. Let's make that happen.

That's some good-lookin' dough.

Rolled out & ready to be covered in butter & cinnamon-sugar.

The bread, before rising.

And after rising... almost doubled in size!

The finished product. It was absolutely incredible. 
Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread recipe here.

Things are going well over here at the Dryden household. We're excited about the holidays & more than ready to spend some time with our families. We're also really pumped to start some of our own holiday traditions.

Despite how this blog may make things seem, we're doing a lot more than just eating. Life is busy & oh so wonderful. But, we really do eat a lot.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More food!

Nathan & I are still tackling our first CSA bundle of veggies. I'm happy to report that I ate all the raspberries myself & they were the most perfect dessert to any meal. I hope we get more, though I doubt there will be any more yummy fruits this season.

The other night we made a delicious dinner of pasta w/veggie-stuffed sauce & some zucchini cakes. It was fabulous. Zucchini wasn't in our CSA, but it has become a new favorite of ours. The pasta was a great way to throw together some random veggie bits we had laying around in the kitchen. Photos:

Grating the Zucchini. 

Mixing up the ingredients to form into patties.

Cooking the Zucchini cakes! 

Ohhhh yeah. A dollop of sour cream to top it off. 

Oh my gosh, yummy meal. 

Recipe here. 

We also had the challenge of finding a good way to make a quick meal out of a single delicata squash. I've never had the delicata type of squash, and I wasn't sure to make with only one of them. But we found the perfect answer: stuff them & pop them in the oven.

The squash, with a little bit of olive oil & spices, after roasting in the oven.

The finished product! Perfect serving size.

Basically, I roasted the squash halves with some olive oil, salt, pepper, & spices. Then I sauteed some greens with garlic & oil, added some white beans & bread crumbs, and stuffed it all in the squash for another round in the oven. This is definitely a great idea when you've got a squash that deserves to be the star of the show, but only 1 squash to work with. I'm sure we'll try this again, and hopefully I can get more creative with fillings. :-)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A great video

Here's a video of one of my biggest heroes, Gene Robinson (I've met him!!!), addressing the Occupy Wall Street movement.

He's absolutely fabulous. Please watch:

"I don't want to live in a country where it's every man, woman and child for themselves. I think that's an awful existence and I think the cries of pain we hear from this movement are the cries of the loss of that kind of community."

Also, this picture is one of my favorites ever:

Stephanie, Wes, Gene Robinson, Taylor, & Me. Best morning ever.

A trick...

Ever find your veggies limp & less life-like? Well, I've got a wonderful trick for you!

We had some radishes that started looking a bit sad, and in order to bring them back to life, I used this little trick...... drumroll please....

Just put your limp veggies in ice water & let them soak until they come back to life! 

SO simple, yet so magical. You wouldn't believe the transformation.

I used this trick again last night with our green onions:

Here they are soaking, looking limp & sad.
I let them soak overnight, and now look at them:

Brought back to life! They're straight & firm again. 
This trick can't save vegetables that are molding, but for ones that have lost moisture & gone limp, it's definitely a life-saver.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Collard Green & Sweet Potato Gratin

Next up, a delicious gratin to use up our collard greens! A friend of mine made this gratin a couple of weeks ago, but with Chard instead of Collards. I was eager to try making it myself, and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. My only problem was the cooking time. Our oven isn't very accurate & usually under- or overcooks foods, regardless of how hard we try to prevent it. This time, it overcooked yet without cooking down the liquids as much as necessary. I guess the heat was too high (though I had it at 400 just like the recipe states) because it cooked quickly & then browned, rather than slowly cooking through the dish. But, regardless, it still tasted fabulous! I highly recommend this dish to anyone who has an abundance of greens (aka, anyone in a winter CSA). The pairing of sweet potato & greens is something magical.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

The making of the gratin:

Making the Béchamel sauce (flour, butter, scalded milk, garlic) 

A layer of sweet potatoes in the dish, with parsley, thyme, salt, & pepper.

The greens! I love that this recipe utilizes every bit- stems & all! 

Mmm, cheesy. The dish with the Béchamel sauce & Gruyere cheese, before the oven.

Before going into the oven to bake down the Béchamel.

After about 40 minutes at 400 degrees fahrenheit. 
We had a fun night eating this dish, too. A dear friend of ours, Marie, came over & ate with us, then we all watched Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone. Nathan had a random itch to watch it, and we gladly obliged. It was a really fun, low-key evening, which I definitely needed after the most stressful on-call weekend ever. Every week, someone from my department takes home the "on-call" phone in case there are any emergencies with our residents or, more often, a resident counselor calls out of work. I had the joy of being on-call this week & weekend.... and I spent what felt like the majority of my weekend dealing with super stressful situations. I need my weekends to recoup from the stress of the week, so this on-call weekend was almost more than I could bare. Thankfully, I have the most fabulous boss & she told me to take a half-day off work one day this week. Awesome, right? She's the best. 

My hopes are high for this week. Nathan & I are having a movie date out, at a movie theater (because I got free movie tickets from work). We're also having dinner Friday night with one of my friends from home whose boyfriend might be applying to Vandy Div. I haven't seen her in 4 or 5 years, and I'm really excited to catch up with her. 

In other news, my cats sill love to sleep in weird positions:

Her legs are going the opposite direction of her paws. How is that comfortable?!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


This website exists:

I came upon it through a completely innocent attempt to find a recipe for easy cat treats.... and I had no idea I would end up here. It seems somehow fitting... That cartoon woman even looks like me with straight hair (and a thinner waist).

Challenge: Chinese Cabbage

The competition: Chinese Cabbage.
One of the toughest veggies in our CSA this week was the Chinese Cabbage (also called Napa Cabbage). It's pretty similar to that typical cabbage you see in the tight green ball, only the texture is a bit different.

It's not that it's hard to find cabbage recipes or anything; it's hard to find appetizing cabbage recipes that aren't German, meat-filled stews & stuff. Also, Nathan's picky.

Well, we pretty much dominated this challenge.

First up, we made AMAZING lettuce wraps. I don't have pictures from that, but I'll tell you what we did! Basically we just cooked up fake ground beef, carrots, greens, & green onions in a skillet, added Tiki Masala sauce, and then used the cabbage to wrap around the tasty Indian mixture. It was incredible. I was skeptical, but I loved every second of it. The cabbage had the perfect texture & it was sturdy enough to hold the filling. Success all around.

Next, I went the easy (but delicious & practical) route & made some vegan cole slaw! Nathan doesn't love Cole Slaw, but he also doesn't like STRAWBERRIES... so, what can you do? (Note my joking tone. I love my husband, even if he has weird food quirks that I will never understand. Also, he would probably want me to clarify that he likes the flavor of strawberries, just not the texture).

Here's what I did:

Chinese/Napa Cabbage (really you can use any kind)
Equal parts Vinegar (I used Cider Vinegar) & Vegetable Oil
Sugar to taste (about equal to the amount of vinegar/oil, but I tended to use less)

I didn't put amounts because you should use however much you have/want! I used several leaves of cabbage, 1 carrot, and about 1/6 an onion. Vinger & Oil about 1/5 cup, and maybe 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.

The Process
  • Washed cabbage leaves thoroughly to get rid of the little bugs that were hitchin' a ride, then dried on towels.
  • Cut up carrots, cabbage, & onions into chunks.
  • Used (too tiny) food processor to shred vegetables into whatever size I wanted. 
  • I saved one leaf of cabbage to manually slice, in order to diversify the texture a bit.
  • Added vinegar, oil, & sugar to taste. 
  • Admired joyfully.

Drying. See their shape? They kind of look like Dementor hands.
The veggies. Simple and tasty.
All the ingredients/tools. Pretty easy, huh?
The finished product. So yummy. And so not fattening.
Beautiful texture.

Thanks, Cabbage, for this wonderful challenge. I'm pretty pleased that I went the practical (boring/easy?) route with the cabbage. Honestly, we're really determined to make sure none of our veggies go bad before we eat them. This cabbage was tricky because it was a huge head. Slaw will keep nicely for a while, and I still even have a couple of leaves left to make Chinese Cabbage Soup with! Another great thing about this recipe is that it's pretty healthy! I'm trying to eat vegan when I can, rather than putting butter & cheese in everything I eat just because I can (hence the weight-gain). This slaw is awesome cause it doesn't have mayo in it, and you can really decide how much sugar & oil you want to add. I went lightly on it to let the awesome flavors of the cabbage, carrots & onion shine through (fresh farm produce seriously tastes better). And the wraps we made last night were pretty healthy & low-fat too, with no added dairy or salt. Yay!

This week we've got some tasty meals planned: Quinoa burgers, Collard Green & Sweet Potato Gratin (for which we bought $7 Gruyere cheese... so it better be freakin' good), Chinese Cabbage Soup, Stuffed Squash, Zucchini Cakes, Homemade Potato Pierogies, and whatever else I can come up with. Hopefully Nathan will allow me to take pictures, thus "objectify our lives" as he so lovingly stated when I took pictures of the stew the other night. (Again, this is me with a loving, joking tone regarding my awesome husband who was also joking when he said that).

That's it. I'm going to go gorge myself on cole slaw (just kidding....?).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

CSA Time!

Along with being our 5-month anniversary (every month is an anniversary until you reach 1 year, right?), today was our first pick-up for our CSA!!!

Look at all of these amazing veggies:

Our bounty this week.
Fiero even wants those Collard Greens.
Oh my gosh, raspberries.
Greens, greens, & more greens. Yum!

And with our first pick-up of veggies, comes our first week of cooking amazing meals with our veggies. First up, STEW!!!! Now, honestly, we did use a lot of other ingredients, so it wasn't solely CSA veggies. But we did manage to use a lot of our collards & green onions. And it was seriously an AMAZING meal. It was fabulous. Hearty, healthy, tasty, delicious. I want to eat it every week for the rest of my life. No joke. Well, at least in winter. And today was cold.... definitely stew weather. :-) The stew:

Veggies! Getting a good, tasty sautee.
chopping veggies. And making dressing.
Once we added the wine, then broth & beans. Seriously, it was amazing.
I made a salad with our lettuce & chinese cabbage. I made a tasty vinaigrette.... mmmm.
The stew. Carrots, celery, green onions, collard greens, veggie broth, garlic, white wine. DELICIOUS.
The white wine we used.... the guy at Green Hills Wine Shoppe recommended it!
If you're interested in trying this one out,the recipe is from Smitten Kitchen (which I highly recommend!!!).

Today has been basically a perfect 5-month anniversary.