Thursday, August 28, 2008

Holiday Sweet Potato Salad

I am actually going to post a recipe here. For a long time, I've had a vision of a sweet potato salad recipe that has the typically things that you'd find in holiday sweet potato casseroles. I had a very nice picture of it... but I totally deleted it on my camera before I could transfer it over. THAT was bound to happen sometime... at least it was a picture of food vs. my son.

So the challenge was what I would use in place of the mayo you typically find in a potato salad. I perused a lot of recipes of what people use in their holiday potatoes and oranges kept coming up, so I thought of an orange vinegraitte.

It turned out really good. The best thing is that really you can put whatever you want in it. I found that this recipe was really 4-5 servings... so if you were going to make it for a BBQ, you may want to double it. Silly me didn't measure out anything when I created it.. so I am going to do my best to put amounts on the ingredients.

Holiday Sweet Potato Salad


2-3 large sweet potatoes: peeled, diced and steamed or boiled.
1 cup mini marshmallows (I used the colored ones and it looked very nice)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice or nutmeg

For the dressing:

1 small can mandarin oranges, juice saved
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup oil
2 tsp honey
1/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 c whipped topping (optional)


1. After cooking sweet potatoes, put in refrigerator to cool completely ~ 1 hour... or you can set them in a bowl of cold water to cool quicker.
2. Put cooked sweet potatoes, marshmallows, brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon and allspice in a large bowl.
3. Make the dressing: Pour the mandarin orange juice into a blender or food processor. Add 1/4 c (or more if you like) of the oranges also. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until completely combined.
4. Pour the dressing over the sweet potato mix. (You may not need all of the dressing depending upon how "wet" you want it.)
5. Stir in whipped topping if desired.

Enjoy! If you make this.. I'd love to hear your comments, opinions.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Farmer's Market Trip 8/23/08!

So.. this week was a small trip. Still all total I spent about $20. I actually dragged my husband and little one with me. In the picture is Romaine lettuce, broccoli, beets, radishes, peaches, kiwi, green peppers and canteloupe. I also got some fun cookie decorations and a dozen eggs.

The canteloupe was only $1.00, but I found out why when I cut it open. It was borderline overripe, but my little man gobbled it up.

Farmer's Market Trip 8/16/08

This was from last week's market trip. I bought apples in hopes of making applesauce. This past week has been busy and now with the apples from the day we went picking, I've definately got to do it! I bought a huge bag of potatoes for $4.00 and I've since made french fries 2x, and still have some left. Also there are pears, peaches, lemons, peppers, blueberries. I bought 2 things of spices.

I got some fancy pasta! Orange and chocolate fusilli!!! I've not done anything with it yet, still trying to figure out what my creation will be.

And then this was the unique item. Yellow watermelon! Have any of you seen it? It tastes maybe just a little sweeter than regular watermelon, but very crisp. I even saved some of the seeds so that I could try to plant some next year. I got a small melon for $4.00, but it made several snacks for Zach.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Another Friday Adventure!

It's been a busy week.

It seems that most of the summer, my sister and niece have participated in a Friday adventure with me and Zach. As school is starting, this is one of our last opportunities for it... but gives us something to look forward to next year.

Because the fall berries needed time to ripen before picking, we chose to do apples instead. We were able to get gingergolds and paula reds. I'm going to attempt to do applesauce as my first canning project ever!

Zach has never eaten an apple. He's had pieces I've cut up for him. He's 18 months now, and you get all nervous about choking hazards. But... my sister took a bite of an apple to get it started and Zach worked a long time at it. I think he ate right through the core at one time. I was actually surprised how much time he devoted to it, I thought for sure he would have given up on it.

It's been warm here after a sort of cool spell. So we decided to get ice cream cones. Another first for Zach. He's had ice cream. He's bitten from my cone, but this time I gave him his own cone.

AHHH, Heaven!
I'm so pleased with this farm. This is the place we've been doing our fruit picking. Abbott's Farm. It's a family farm and they have the neatest little shop too where you can buy homemade products like jams and sauces, pies and pastries. They sell hormone-free, antibiotic-free, free range beef as well. It's so nice to have this opportunity for Zach to grow up with.

Well, I've got posting to catch up on. I have 2 Farmer's Market posts to update you on.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The verdict is in!

about the Veggie burgers. I had made some and froze them. They were defrosted and grilled this week and they still tasted fabulous. That recipe is a winner!

Scratch cooking

Okay, so I've been making a conscious effort to make things from scratch rather than purchase convenience products. It is very time consuming, but very fulfilling too. So, I got to thinking about pancake batter and came across this blog post.

I didn't even know this product existed. I can't imagine the taste of it. Sprayable pancake batter like nonstick pan spray? But, also at this blog they give a pancake batter recipe. I tried it. It was easy and yummy. Tasted much better than the normal Bisquick I make. I doubled the recipe b/c it clearly was not going to make enough for me, hubby and Zach. When I doubled it, I only used the 1 tbsp of sugar instead of doubling it and they tasted fine. I also did some with blueberries mixed in.

Mark's No Big Deal Pancake Recipe

1. Mix together 1 cup flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp sugar or natural sweetener.
2. Add 1 c milk, 1 egg, and 1/4 c oil and mix everything together. Leaving it lumpy is okay.
3. Fry up your pancakes.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Sunflower Maze!

We did the coolest thing today. A local politician bought a bunch of land in the rural area and planted a bunch of sunflowers that he'll harvest and sell. For a couple of weeks each year, he carves a maze into the sunflowers for people to visit. We took my sister, my niece, my mom, my nephew, Zach and me. I wasn't sure of the exact area, but once we turned on the street, all you could see was yellow.

The kids had a blast following the maze. Somebody put smiley faces and hearts in some of the sunflowers, so the kids had determined that if there was a smiley face, it meant danger was ahead and they needed to be careful.

After we completed the maze, we went up to a different place where we could pick some sunflowers for $1.00/each. Each of the kids got 2 of them.

Here is a picture of me and my little guy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My very first cucumber

Okay, here it is! My first cucumber. It was perfect, just like the beauties in the grocery store.

Veggie Burgers

I love Veggie burgers. I don't eat red meat, so it's nice to have this alternative. Zach even has started to enjoy them. I give one to him cut up with some ketchup for dipping. I should say.. he has some veggie burger to go along with his ketchup. Well, I had bought some Morningstar burgers and that's what I've been giving them... but they do contain soy... and the jury is still out on if too much soy is a good or bad thing. And then there's the whole issue of whether it is genetically modified or not.

So, I've been on a mission to find a Veggie Burger recipe that can be cooked on the grill. Most of them are not sturdy enough to survive grilling on a BBQ. Then I found this recipe on The beauty of this is that you can really add other things that you like in terms of vegetable and spices. I made this recipe with some mushrooms diced up as well b/c I had to use the ones I bought at the Farmer's Market. They tasted wonderful. I actually made about 4 larger size burgers rather than the 8 small ones the recipe called for. I froze a couple to see how they are after defrosting. If they are still sturdy, I'm going to make quite a few with the vegetables in season for the winter.

Veggie Burgers

2tsp olive oil (or whatever you have)
1 small onion, grated.
2 cloves garlic, crushed.
2 carrots, shredded
1 small summer squash, shredded
1 small zucchini, shredded
1 1/2 c rolled oats
1/4 c shredded Cheddar Cheese (I used organic, mont jack. It's what I had available)
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)

1. Heat the oil in the skillet over low heat, and cook the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes until tender. Mix in the carrots, squash and zucchini. Continue to cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and mix in oats, cheese, and egg. Stir in soy sauce, transfer the mixture to a bowl and refigerate for 1 hour.

2. Preheat the grill for high heat.

3. Place flour on a large plate. Form the vegetable mixture into 8 - 3inch round patties. Drop eatch patty into the flour, lightly coating both sides.

4. Oil the grill grate and drill patties 5 minutes on each side or until heated through and nicely browned.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Farmer's Market Trip - 8/9/08

Another week at the Farmer's Market. I am going to miss this so much during the winter. I'll still go, but I'll miss the vast variety that I've been accustomed to. I was hesistant about purchasing cucumbers as I have a couple that are about to be done in my garden, but I figured for $1.00, I couldn't go wrong. I'll just have to bring them every day in my lunch. The broccoli was a tad expensive, but I will say that I steamed it and I have never seen such a beautiful green. Much different thant he store bought stuff. I made a batch of veggie burgers and fries from scratch. I'll be posting the recipe. The veggie burger was fantastic. It was actually sturdy enough to go on the grill and tasted fabulous. I didn't buy fresh berries.... but these were cheaper and since my blueberry picking place was out of them at this moment.. I just went the easy route... although they were picked in NJ and that's kind of local.

Zucchini (3 very large)----------------$1.00

Broccoli (3 small heads)---------------$3.00

Strawberries (1 quart)----------------$1.50

Blueberries (1 pint)-------------------$1.50

Potatoes (14)-------------------------$3.00

Apples (3 - I ate one)-----------------$1.00

Donut peaches (9)--------------------$3.00

Mango (1)----------------------------$1.00

Green peppers (5)--------------------$2.00

Limes (4)-----------------------------$1.00

Lemons (2)---------------------------$1.00

Cucumbers (4)------------------------$1.00

Total = $20.00

I have also decided that I am going to pick up at least one new spice per week at "The Spice Rack". He buys them in bulk and sells reasonable amounts for a good price. This week I purchased celery seeds (crushed), whole allspice, some orange nonpareils and football/helmet sprinkles that I plan to use during football season. My total for all this was $4.70.

The Patty Pan Squash Story

So, I talked in my last Farmer's Market Post about buying Patty pan squash. Now, I have no idea what to do with it...
I bought it because every time my husband and I go grocery shopping, he sees the little picture of it with all of the other baby vegetables and remarks how cute it is. He thinks it would just be so cute to give to our son. (not sure what then he would do with it.) But, it's never available in the store and my husband always wonders why there isn't any. So, when I saw this at the Farmers' Market, I just had to pick it up and bring it home. Now I just have to figure out what to do with it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Farmer's Market Trip - 8/2/08

I went to the Farmer's Market and met my mom and step dad there. We had so much fun. I found such a nice variety of things. They have a littlle spice stand where they sell spices, mixes, and pretty decorations for cookies. I bought some colored sugar for cookies and some Lavender. My nephew is starting kindergarten this year, so I had bought some little ABC's to put on the cookies I'm going to make for him. Spices total $4.70

I found this mortar and pestle. It was $3.00 from the little flea market stand.

I've started buying my eggs at the Farmer's Market as well. They are cage free, free range, no hormones or antibiotics. I had buying Eggland's Best at the store for approx ~$2.29. This dozen of large costs $2.50 but well worth it. Supports a local farmer and the eggs are fresh.

A couple weeks ago, I bought a similar looking pepper plant, only they were hot peppers (and they ARE hot). This is a sweet pepper plant. I haven't actually tried any yet, but the price was $2.00, so I figured I can't go wrong. I'm still trying to decide whether or not I want to leave it in a pot, or plant it in the ground.

These are some rolls. My step dad bought a dozen and the guy gave him some extras, so they generously gave me some. So this by far was the best bargain of the day. $0.00. They were good. They are very thick, we made chicken sausage sandwiches and used these. We grilled peppers and onions and served it with a pesto potato salad.

And, the rest of my treasure.
Mushrooms ( a bunch) .............$2.00
Sweet potato (1)........................$ .50
Zucchini (1)...............................$ .35
Plums (~10) (split them with mom)
Limes (4)...................................$1.00
Peaches (6).............................. $3.00
Cucumbers (3)..........................$1.00
Pattypan squash (5)..................$1.35
Red peppers (5).........................$2.00

Total - $23.40

I rarely buy mushrooms, but I've been wanting to make homemade veggie burgers. I have a sweet potato salad idea in my head that I'm going to try to figure out and post. The red peppers were disappointing because when I got them home, parts of them were rotting.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Other people's gardens....

Is a great way to obtain local, probably organic produce. A patient of mine who is trying to teach me how to cook Puerto Rican foods, brought me some goodies from his garden. We have tomatoes, hot peppers and the small, green ones are sweet peppers. I gave him in return, some green and purple beans. I think I'm gonna turn all of this into a nice, hot, yummy Salsa.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

I normally wouldn't be broadcasting this. I would just allow the day to come and go. But my parents gave me such a thoughtful, green gift that I figured I would share. I don't know how clearly you can see it in the picture, but it's a huge canning container. And inside they put a package of pectin, some jars, a funnel, and the tong things to grab the jars with. (and a case of more jars). Now I just have to figure out how to can. My stepfather is very good at it and my gift does come with a lesson. He took some of the blueberries last week that my sister picked and turned it into jam. Tastes wonderful!!

And we have peppers....

They are very small, you can't tell from the picture! But it's some success!! and.. I've got some actual cucumbers too!! I've not picked them yet, but I'll be sure to post pics as soon as I do.

And I've got more purple beans than I know what to do with! haha