Lemon chicken, skillet potatoes, squash fritters, zucchini bread

Happy Fourth/random Wednesday in July!

It’s very hot here. Hot and humid. So, without a doubt, it was the perfect day to keep the oven running for 6 hours straight. In my defense, the end results were pretty spectacular.

Late Monday night I marinated some chicken with lemons and some other stuff; this morning I baked it. I didn’t really follow a recipe but if you want to replicate this, have at.

Lemon Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes

1-1/2 lb chicken breast (or whatever meat/meat substitute floats your boat)

2 lemons

a couple tablespoons oil

2 cloves garlic (or more if you hate vampires)

salt and pepper

herbs and spices (I used parsley and tarragon)

one pint cherry tomatoes

Put the chicken in a baggie. Add the oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and spices. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into the bag. Then throw the lemons in for extra flavor. Marinate for a couple hours or overnight or a day and a half (if you’re forgetful, like me).

Set the oven to 400. Pour the chicken and marinade into a large pan, add the cherry tomatoes. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until you’re reasonably certain the chicken won’t kill you (hits internal temps of 165 or above).

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I also made some skillet potatoes to go with it. Couple of new potatoes (red and white) supplemented with a sweet potato, sliced thin, lightly fried with garlic, salt, and pepper.

Later, it was time to use up all the squash and beets I’ve been getting the last few weeks. I grated it all up (that took over an hour) and started making things.

These are pretty damn good. If you have 20 minutes and some leftover zucchini, you can make them. Mine of course did not look as nice as the picture…

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…but if they taste mighty fine, it doesn’t matter.

Finally, I made three double-batches of zucchini bread. All in all today I used eight cups of shredded stuffs and still had about 2 cups leftover. I followed Mark Bittman’s basic recipe for a fruit/vegetable quick bread, from How to Cook Everything. (Seriously, guys, if you don’t have a copy of this book, you are doing it wrong.)

In half the batches, I swapped in applesauce for butter. In the other half, I swapped in yogurt. I’ve tried both. I can’t tell which I like better. But I’m definitely going to keep leaving the butter out. In the future I will also start cutting down on sugar (a cup per loaf? really?), probably by adding some vanilla.

Here’s the batch that came out prettiest:

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The loaf in the glass pan had a devil of a time coming out. Ultimately I lost quite a bit of the bottom…which somehow made its way into my mouth. Ooops.

I hear in this week’s share I can expect lots of pickling cucumbers. The farm offered up a recipe for fridge pickles, and I can’t wait to try them! I love pickles almost unnaturally, and it would be great to have a few jars in the fridge I can feel good about eating.

By the way, I have plenty of zucchini bread for anyone who wants it…

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What I Had for Lunch Today

I had the day off work today, so I decided to use the time cooking things that are sometimes too fancy for everyday meals.

First up: beet soup. I had a bunch from the last couple weeks’ CSA pickups, and it’s kind of dreary out today, so it seemed appropriate. I followed this recipe from Allrecipes. (Without the heavy cream.)

After roughly chopping an onion, I threw in some fresh, uncured garlic that came from the farm. Check this out!

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The cloves have a lovely pinkish skin that peels off as easy as a jacket. They don’t smell very strong. It’s not really what I imagined. A couple of times I’ve driven through Gilroy, California, widely known as the only place in the world you can season a steak by hanging it outside. This definitely doesn’t smell like Gilroy on a summer afternoon.

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Next I peeled and chopped the beets (and also clogged the garbage disposal, but luckily all it needed was a good plunging). The recipe called for 6 medium beets but I used 8, because 4 were small and 4 were large. I like that the different sizes are different varieties. They look so nice piled up like that.

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Anyway after a million years (approximately) of simmering I got to pull out the stick blender my boyfriend gave me for my birthday (is he not the best? He totally is.) and I made a nice chunky puree. I could have gone smoother but I liked the texture as it was. Also I was *really hungry.*

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The end result was buttery and sweet, strongly reminiscent of sweet corn. Next time I need to add something to sharpen the flavor. More black pepper, maybe. I had some with a chicken and squash stir fry over brown rice, and two hours later I’m still pretty full. I’d consider that a win.

Later, I’m going to make calzones with chicken, ricotta, and more of that damn Swiss chard, as well as basil from the CSA. The dough will be from scratch, of course. I just need to get up the energy for it. Lunch was a four-burner event.

Quiche. Lots and lots of quiche.

(In answer to the question: what are you going to do with more chard, beet greens, and scallions?)

This will be the week I cook Swiss chard and like it. I am determined! And the way I’ll make this work is with other things I like, namely, cheese, ham, eggs, and a crust. Friends, fat and carbs make everything better.

I also got lettuce, which will probably used in some kind of salad with roasted beets, and summer squash. There are about 11 billion ways to cook squash – one of my favorites is a stick-to-your-ribs vegetarian rice loaf. However, that takes about 2 hours to make, between cooking the brown rice and then baking the loaf. So I’m thinking zucchini bread.

My birthday is tomorrow, and I’m having a bring-your-favorite-takeout party. But because I’m incapable of making too much food for these kinds of things, I’m making roasted chickpeas, homemade cheese (with mango chutney for mixing), and cake. It just isn’t a party without cake.

So, what are our favorite quiche and zucchini bread recipes?

First CSA Haul! (And what I’ll do with it.)

Last night we had some wicked weather. Rain, thunderstorms, a tornado – even a waterspout in the Chesapeake Bay. Amidst all this, two dear friends of mine welcomed a brand-new baby son into the world. Ari, child of thunderstorms, is destined to be a superhero.

Overnight the sky cleared, the temperature dropped back from unseasonable highs, and today dawned perfect. All the windows are open, and everything smells fresh and clean and slightly mulchy. A farmer’s-marketing I went!

First up, we have a lovely bunch of arugula.

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Next, five of the largest scallions I’ve ever seen (they must each be over a foot long):

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And beets. I don’t know that I’ve ever willingly eaten a beet. These still have the dirt from the farm on them – you can tell they’re fresh!Image

Strawberries (not from the CSA but who could resist? They come with their own hairnet.).

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A head of broccoli that came with two inchworms as a bonus. At least they looked like happy inchworms. I liberated one outside and the other went down the sink by accident.

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Swiss chard:

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Finally, romaine:

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Not pictured: some homemade pasta and a small pack of Russian tea cakes. The samples get me every time. I was hoping for homemade cheese but that vendor wasn’t there. I really should get around to making some before too long.

So what am I going to do with all this stuff? The arugula, chard, and beets (roasted) will go on the pasta with some chicken. It’ll make me the envy of the lunchroom. I think the romaine will be for sandwiches, and the scallions, at least some of them, will find their way into eggs. Roasted broccoli will make a nice side for sandwiches.

What else can I do with this stuff? Are beet greens edible?