Wilted Veggies? Try this.

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Even before we had our CSA membership, but especially since we get *so much* produce week after week, I’m bad about using my veggies quickly enough. Does that ever happen to you? Well I encourage you not to give up on those wilted veggies by throwing them away. You can save them with some water, ice, and a little bit of patience. If you’re ever in that situation with wilted veggies (in my case most recently, it was bok choy)–

A sad couple bunches of bok choy as pulled out of the fridge.

A sad couple bunches of bok choy as pulled out of the fridge.

Think about these veggies as if they were a sad plant in your garden desperately in need of a good watering. That’s really all they need. So I chopped the bottoms off the bok choy bunches and peeled the leaves apart. I discarded a few of the saddest leaves– even a good ice bath won’t help in some cases, then put the rest in the biggest bowl I could find, covered them with cold tap water, and then dumped a few handfuls of ice cubes on top. Then I left it sit for a while. (Note, the other great thing about this ice bath is that it’s also serving a dual purpose of washing the veggies for you. Agitate them a little bit every once in a while and all the dirt will fall to the bottom of that big bowl for you to wash away later.)

A large bowl for the bok choy, housing a nice ice water bath.

A large bowl for the bok choy, housing a nice ice water bath.

How long did I let it sit? Not sure. I recommend that you keep checking back until all the ice is melted and the majority of the leaves are perky and fresh looking, like this–

Perky bok choy after the ice melted.

Perky bok choy after the ice melted.

And, finally, for the after shot, of just a couple of the leaves, beautiful and like they were just picked.

Beautiful, perfect bok choy, ready for my next delicious meal!

Beautiful, perfect bok choy, ready for my next delicious meal!

I really do use this trick all the time for a huge variety of veggies– lettuce, kale, swiss chard, spinach, broccoli, green beans, cucumbers, beets, radishes, carrots, etc. If your veggies are really sad, definitely take the time to trim the ends (similar to cut flowers you might keep in a vase) before dropping in the ice bath.

I hope this helps you save some money and use those veggies you’ve kept on hand a little bit too long!

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Banana Birthday Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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On July 16th, my son, Desmond, turned 2. For his first birthday last year I made a ton of different cakes so he had multiple cake smash sessions with all the people who wanted to celebrate his birthday throughout the month. This year I used the same mini cake pan to make a little version of this delicious banana cake recipe.

As is our birthday tradition, we enjoyed the cake on the bank of Walden Pond, amid the beauty of nature and warm summer sun.

If you’re looking for a different but delicious birthday cake recipe, I highly recommend this one!

Mini Banana Cake (6 inch diameter)

Serves: 5

2 medium bananas, super ripe, mashed
2/3 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 c butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
2/3 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

2. Grease and flour a 6 inch round pan.

3. In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with lemon juice. Set aside.

4. In medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

5. In large bowl, cream butter, and sugar until light and fluffy.

6. Beat in egg, then stir in vanilla.

7. Beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk.

8. Stir in banana mixture.

9. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 c butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese
1 1/4 c powdered sugar
1/3 tsp vanilla extract

1. Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth.

2. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth.

3. Spread on cooled cake. Decorate with blueberries– they went great with the banana/lemon in the recipe!

Note: To end up with a super moist cake, we put the cake in the freezer for about 20 minutes after it cooled a bit. Then we spread the frosting on. Seemed to work– it was incredibly moist and delicious!

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points: 18

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Raspberry Peach Cobbler

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If you’re looking for a delicious and super summery seasonal dessert, this is definitely it. It’s easy, and Weight Watchers approved, since it came from them in the first place.

(Adapted from Weight Watchers)

Serves: 8 (1/2 c servings)
Time: 60 minutes total, 45 minutes cooking

6 medium peaches, halved, pitted, and thinly sliced (about 1 3/4 pounds)
3 Tb powdered sugar
1 c raspberries
3/4 c flour
3 1/2 Tb granulated sugar, divided
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tb regular butter, cold
1/3 c sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Places peaches in a medium bowl, toss with powdered sugar until sugar dissolves. In an 8-inch square baking pan arrange peach slices in several layers. Sprinkle raspberries over top.

3. In a large bowl combine flour, 3 Tb granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture and work with a fork or pastry cutter until flour resembles course crumbs. (Mine appeared more like tiny crumbles, which was just fine.) Add sour cream and vanilla. Mix with fork until dough comes together.

4. Place clumps of crumb mixture over fruit. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 Tb sugar.

5. Bake until top is golden brown and fruit begins to bubble, about 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points = 5

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Arugula Pesto

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I didn’t love this dish. It felt a bit grainy and lacking in richness. But I think you could play with this and maybe make it more delicious. Maybe use really quality olive oil. And don’t forget the salt and pepper (like my husband did when he made it for us). This was a good way to get rid of the arugula we had on hand from our CSA, though, so don’t count it out.

At some point, I have to find the recipe for my mustard green pesto from last year. Now that was a tasty pesto!

(Adapted from Stillman’s CSA newsletter, Week 7 July 27-August 1)

Serves: 4

2 c (packed) arugula leaves (about 3 ounces)
2 c (packed) basil leaves (about 3 ounces)
1/4 c pine nuts, toasted
1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c olive oil
1 lb pasta

1. Cook pasta according to directions.

2. Blend arugula, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese in processor until almost smooth. With machine running, gradually add olive oil; process until well blended.

3. Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Toss over your preferred pasta. I like pasta with wrinkles to catch the sauce, like bowties.

Note: Can be made ahead. Cover and let stand up to 2 hours at room temperature or refrigerate up to 1 day. Bring to room temp before using.

Note: We didn’t have 4 cups of arugula, but if we did, we might have followed the original recipe instead of subbing in basil.

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points: 8

Balsamic Roast Beef with Fresh Green Bean Casserole

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I’m still dreaming about this dinner. I think it’s the most delicious meal we’ve had in a while, and I think it’s almost entirely due to how delicious that roast beef ended up being. I can’t take credit for actually making the meal, but I am responsible for setting up the menu and being a lifeline for my husband as he cooked throughout the day. If you have a beef round hanging out in your freezer like we did, and you’re looking for something to do with it… or if you are just looking for an incredible meaty meal, look no further, my friends.

Balsamic Roast Beef
(Adapted from addapinch.com)

Serves: 5
Total Time: 8 hrs 15 mins

1 3/4 pounds trimmed beef round (ours started off frozen)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c balsamic vinegar (break out the good stuff for this recipe!)
1 c beef broth (we used beef bullion dissolved in a homemade veggie broth)
1 Tb Worcestershire sauce
1 Tb soy sauce
1 Tb honey
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1.) Place beef into your slow cooker. In a glass measuring bowl (at least 2 cups in size), mix together all remaining ingredients. Pour over beef.

2.) Cook for 4 hours on high and 4 hours on low.

3.) When meat is ready, it should break up easily with two forks. Break meat up somewhat in slow cooker. Break it up the rest of the way in a serving dish/when serving.

4.) Serve with tongs and be sure to ladle some of the sauce overtop.

5.) Save beef and sauce leftovers for sandwiches!

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points: 7

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From Scratch Fresh Green Bean Casserole
(Adapted from Southern Living online)

Serves: 4
Time: 55 minutes total, 25 active

3/4 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
1 Tb butter
1/8 c flour
3/4 c 2% milk
1/4 c buttermilk
1/2 Tb Ranch dressing mix
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp butter
1 c French fried onions, crushed
1/4 c panko breadcrumbs
1 plum tomato (or 2 small regular tomatoes), seeded & chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook green beans by steaming them until desired doneness (not too soft!). Plunge the beans into an ice bath to stop cooking process. Drain and pat dry.

2. Melt 1 Tb butter in dutch oven over medium heat, whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, whisking constantly, 3-4 minutes or until sauce is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and whisk in buttermilk, Ranch dressing mix, thyme, salt, and pepper.

3. Gently toss green beans in buttermilk sauce. Spray a square baking dish or casserole and pour in green bean mixture.

4. Combine French fried onions, panko, and tomatoes. Sprinkle over green bean mixture.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Nutrition: 168 Cal; 8.4 g Fat (3.9 g Sat); 5.7 g Protein; 18.5 g Carb; 3.9 g Fiber; 15 mg Chol; 296 mg Sodium

Weight Watchers Points: 4

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Baked Risotto with Greens

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Another recipe specifically made to help rid us of our kale. I think this is my favorite of the kale recipes. And I’ve continued eating it for lunch at work for days afterward, so the recipe makes a lot and it continues to be delicious even a few days later.

Adapted from Stillman’s CSA Week 5 (July 13-19)
Serves 6

1 Tb olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1 1/4 c vegetable and chicken stock (combined)
1/2 c tomato sauce (jarred)
3/4 c grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese
1 bunch kale (stems removed, washed and coarsely chopped, about 4 cups)
salt and pepper to taste

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.) In a French over, combine oil and onion over medium heat. Cook until onion is soft, about 3-4 minutes.
3.) Add rice, stir to coat with oil and cook for 1 minute.
4.) Add the vegetable and chicken stock, tomato sauce, and greens and simmer for 9-13 minutes until kale has wilted down.
5.) Turn off heat. Add half the cheese and smooth out the top with the back of a spoon.
6.) Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
7.) Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes, until rice is cooked through and has absorbed most of liquid. Should be moist but not soupy.

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points: 8 points

A bit messy for the cleanup...

A bit messy for the cleanup…

Kale Fritatta

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Yet another thing we had too much of– kale. Kale is another vegetable that I’m really not a big fan of. But I’m willing to try it all sorts of ways to see if it has more value than being made into kale chips. Luckily our CSA newsletter has had a few recipe ideas for us, and this is one we made recently. It is intended for swiss chard rather than kale, but I made it work.

Adapted from Stillman’s CSA newsletter, Week 6 (July 20-26)
Serves 6
Active Time: About 40 minutes

1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tb olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh basil
1 tsp fresh oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
ground pepper to taste
1 zucchini, chopped
1 bunch of kale, leaves chopped
1 pepper, chopped
5 eggs and a splash of milk
1 c shredded cheddar

1.) In a French oven, saute onion and garlic in oil with seasonings for 5-8 minutes.
2.) Add zucchini and kale. Cover to help cook the kale down and wait to add more ingredients until the kale cooks down by at least a quarter.
3.) Add pepper.
4.) Beat eggs with milk, add cheese. Pour over veggies.
5.) Place French oven in a 400 degree oven and cook 15-18 minutes or until set.

Nutrition:
Weight Watchers Points: 6

Between steps 3 and 4.

Between steps 3 and 4.

Right before sticking in the oven.

Right before sticking in the oven.