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Week 2: I Am An Artist!

30 May

Garden vegetable Pie
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Week 1: What To Make With Squash Blossoms

22 May

In the summer our garden is overflowing with tomatoes, the only thing that rivals the tomatoes for sheer abundance is the zucchini and squash. With zucchini and squash come the blossoms.  My mission this week was to come up with a dish for squash blossoms. Most people, including myself have not had a lot of experience with cooking or eating the squash blossoms. The only recipe I know is stuffing them with a cheese mixture and frying them. I wanted to do something a little out of the box and a little healthier for you. The only pasta I had on hand was a macaroni rice noodle. You really could use whatever is your favorite kind of pasta. I also thought that instead of making a traditional spaghetti sauce this would be a great alternative. I was really happy with how this tuned out. It took a little work peeling the tomatoes but was totally worth it!

Squash blossom tips:

Ultimately, you want to use squash blossoms the same day they are picked. If that is not possible, put them on a paper towel in an airtight container. Don’t squish them!  Take care of your ingredients and they will take care of you.

Squash blossoms, Zucchini, and Tomatoes over Rice Pasta

Serves: 4-6

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

4 small-med. zucchini, halved lengthwise, and sliced

8 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

A pinch of red pepper flakes

7 very fresh squash or zucchini blossoms, pistils removed and cut lengthwise into thin strips

Handful fresh basil leaves

2 Tablespoons half and half

Salt and pepper to taste

freshly grated Parmesan

1# rice pasta

Salt for your pasta water

First put a large pot 3/4 the way full of water on high and bring to a boil. Add Pasta and salt, cook until al dente’. Once you cooked the pasta, drain and set aside, keep warm.

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and saute’ until fragrant, about 5 minutes or until golden. Add the garlic and zucchini and saute’ until the zucchini begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and red pepper, cover and simmer until the tomatoes have cooked down and the zucchini are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the squash blossoms, basil leaves and cook uncovered, stirring until flowers are wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir in half and half.

Spoon half of the sauce into a warmed serving bowl, Add the pasta, top with remaining sauce and toss well. Add the Parmesan for flavor.

Adapted from: Savoring Tuscany by Lori De Mori

Seasonal Recipes

22 May

Summer is upon us and I am so excited about all the new vegetables that we are getting out of the garden. Each week I make a new recipe to put in the CSA boxes for Ray and Ashley of Rose Creek Farms. I am very fortunate to live with them and get all the access I want to the fresh produce. Over the summer I will be featuring a weekly recipe according to what is in abundance in our garden. I hope you like them.

Hanging Cupcakes and Cupcake Wrappers

20 Apr

Ever thought of hanging cupcakes for display?

Last weekend my roommate was married…Sigh.

For her wedding the mother of the Bride wanted cupcakes. So, somehow I was put in charge. I tried avoiding it, I was going to help my sister coordinate the wedding. I didn’t want to do the food this time. I can’t even figure out how but I was put in charge of the cupcakes. I had a team of wonderful helpers that there is no way in the world I could have pulled it off without them. Now understand this… The mother of the bride used to do all the food for all our weddings. She was amazing!!! So she had a very high standard that I had to live up to. She doesn’t like the same thing twice so I couldn’t just do a regular cupcake stand. She had already done that. About a week before the wedding I was still pondering over how I was going to display the cupcakes.

So I had a lot to live up to and I didn’t even want to do it. I was busy with other things. I did next what I know to do… get help. So I went to one of my friends and asked if she had any ideas of how to display the cupcakes without doing the same ol’ same ol’ cupcake cake. She jokingly said “hang them”. We laughed and she said she was joking. I knew she was joking but it got me thinking… I couldn’t get the thought out of my head so I googled it and found very little help due to the time and budget I was on. I finally found a picture of cupcakes hanging from a small tree. It looked like the cupcakes were in a metal ring of some sort and ribbon glued to it then hung from the tree. Instantly my mind started racing. What could I buy that would fit the cupcakes perfectly in them? I tried a few things before I thought of the rings of canning jars. I had also decided it would be crazy to try to hang over 300 cupcakes so I wanted to either buy cupcake wrappers or make them for the cupcakes that weren’t hanging. I ended up making them due to it being much cheaper.

So I ended up going shopping a couple days later to get all the stuff I would need. I got 48 lids and 70 sheets of 12″ x 12″ scrapbook paper for the wrappers and lots of ribbon. A couple of girls and I stayed up late drawing the pattern on the backside of the paper getting 5 wrappers out of each paper. Giving us 350 wrappers. The next morning a whole crew of girls came over to help me finish it off. Next, we glued ribbon around the rings of the lid so that it wouldn’t look like a jar lid. We then cut long strings of ribbon. The longer the better so that you can always adjust the length of how long your cupcake would hang. Then put the cupcake in the ring and put the center of a piece of ribbon on the bottom and figured out where we would need to glue the ribbons to the ring to let the cupcake sit just right. Once we had one ribbon marked we could use that for a pattern and mark the other ribbons. Once all the ribbons were hot glued to the lids we tied the ribbons to a hanger so that they wouldn’t get all tangled for the next day. We had a total of 48 cupcake hangers.

So the day of the wedding we stuck dogwood branches that had just been cut in a pot and secured it by tying the branches together at the bottom and putting tons of rocks in the pot around the branches. So we had our lovely little trees that we stuck on the tables and started hanging the ribbons on the branches. After all the ribbons were on we started putting the cupcakes in the holders. a huge gust of wind came along and blew our lovely little tree right off one of the tables. I wasn’t going to let that take me out though. I had gotten this far and I was not backing down. So we moved the tables up right next to a tree and tied OUR tree to a real tree. Wala… no more blowing over.

I was extremely happy with how it turned out and the mother of the bride loved it. After all the hard work it paid off. So I am glad I got pushed into making the cupcakes I had a really fun time once I got into it. I was also working with an amazing woman who is going to be moving to Mexico soon so I got some good quality time with her. I love a challenge and the hanging cupcakes were a challenge that I feel like I conquered with lots of help and support.
I hope this helps for anyone looking to hang cupcakes.