Central Market: some new stands for 2013!

There’s some new stands popping up at the Lancaster Central Market  this year. I thought I spread the word about a few…

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Pureblend Tea serves up specialty tea lattes and Matcha – all organic. I’ve had two tea lattes so far and they were both really good! I tried the blackberry chaikhana and the chocolate chai latte. I liked the teas, just one heads up – some of the lattes have flavor syrup in them. My blackberry tea had blackberry syrup – which wasn’t bad – I was just expecting blackberries in with the tea leaves. Sometimes the syrups are a little too sweet for me. The chocolate chai was yummy, it only had a hint of chocolate right in with the tea leaves. I did decline the square of organic dark chocolate that could have been added to it. I am sure it is good however you order – like a hot chocolate chai.

I am really excited for the opening of Oasis. I saw a sign on a corner stand (that used to be Senorita Burrita) advertising their opening. They will have organic dairy products. I have recently switched over to organic milk instead of drinking soy milk all the time. I’m sure this stand will help me with that.

Also new for 2013 – I am trying really hard not to shop at big grocery stores. I am only allowing myself one visit a month to a chain grocery store like Giant. My husband has gone on a little health kick and has changed his diet – I am following suit. Mostly our switches are to organic dairy products, different types of sugars, cutting out the white flour (I haven’t cut the pasta yet), and making sure we are getting plenty of veggies. I am also trying to buy as local as I can this year. I think that we eat pretty healthy already so it hasn’t been to hard – So far it is going very well. I am definitely cutting down the grocery bill, mostly because I am not buying a bunch of unnecessary items at the grocery store.

But back to Market…

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Rooster Street Provisions specializes in awesome pork products!!! I got their italian sausage this past saturday. I added it to some homemade sauce and poured it over pasta. I loved it! it is worth all these exclamation points!! I can not wait to go back and try some of their other cured meats. I’ll visit them on saturday and pick out something else extra special to snack on. If you want to see some pretty pics of their products – check out their instagram page @roosterst. I also love their yellow framed chalkboard and wooden counters at their stand. Beautifully done!

On the other side of Rooster Street Provisions is…

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Shady Maple – chock-full of baked goods. I haven’t tried anything from here yet… I just noticed that their new sign is huge! What a contrast to the Rooster Street stand. Everyone loves a little variety, right?

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I did pick up a lonely looking cupcake at Wendy Jo’s. This stand has been at market for a while and it continues to be delicious.

Right next to Wendy Jo’s is a food stand called Comfort Bakehouse. They make all kinds of foods from meatloaf to eggs… all in muffin tins! All of their offerings look quite tasty. I’m going to give them a try this week. I’ll have to decide between breakfast or lunch… or maybe I’ll just get both!

I’ve tried Thom’s bread a few times now. They make a pretty solid loaf of bread – actually it is pretty crispy and fresh, not quite solid. The rosemary has been my favorite – but get there early – they have been sold out the last two weekends that I went to market. I have also enjoyed the kalamata olive – we had it with some delicious pasta last weekend. It’s perfect for dipping into sunday sauce.

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I made this super sandwich with a Rustic Italian boule from Thom’s on Saturday. Everything else on this sandwich was also from market – avocado, alfalfa sprouts, mustard greens, smokey turkey and sharp cheddar cheese. If you didn’t notice… there’s my carrot cupcake… it was scrumptious and I enjoyed it very much… I ate all of it!

Remember Central Market is open Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays! Hope to see you there!

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Butternut Squash Lasagna

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This is one of my most favorite meals for fall. It is creamy, delicious and can be made so many ways!

I got the original recipe from Giada DeLorentis, from the food network. Her version was made to be a side dish and didn’t include meat or other vegetables, so you could leave those out if you want a simpler version of this lasagna. I haven’t actually read that recipe in a while because I have been tweaking this recipe ever since I started making it.  I added in some things to the layers to take it from a side dish to a hearty main dish. There are a few components to this dish that you must prepare before you layer it all together; the cream sauce, the butternut squash puree, and the sautéed kale (If you choose to add it). You make each one separately and then layer them in a large baking dish with cheese and lasagna noodles.

For the creme sauce:

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small chopped onion

2 large cloves minced garlic

4 tbsp flour

1/2 cup chicken stock

4 cups whole milk

salt and pepper

a piece of whole nutmeg (or about 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg)

1/2 cup packed fresh basil

Add 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil to a large saute pan. Add the chopped onions and 2 cloves of the minced garlic and saute just for a minute. Add 4 tbsp Flour and whisk while cooking for a few minutes to make a roux. Whisk until the four mixture turns a golden color. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock and whisk until it is absorbed by the roux. Add the warmed milk 1 cup at a time and whisk until the sauce starts to thicken. Add each cup while whisking and simmer on low until sauce is a nice creamy consistency. Season with salt, pepper and about 1/2 of a freshly grated nutmeg. Put the fresh basil into a blender and ladle about two cups of the white creme sauce into the blender. Blend until the basil is fully incorporated, pour the mixture back into the rest of the sauce and stir to incorporate.

For the butternut squash puree:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium-sized butternut squash

1/2 cup chicken stock

salt and pepper

4-5 small Amaretti cookies

In a sauce pot, heat the olive oil and saute the butternut squash until some are lightly golden. Add in the chicken stock, cover and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender. Blend the squash in a food processor until smooth and add in 4-5 Amaretti cookies and blend until they are crushed and mixed in.

For the sautéed kale:

1 bunch of purple kale

2 cloves minced garlic

Salt and pepper

a piece of whole nutmeg (or about 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg)

Clean and cut up the kale. In a large saute pan, heat the oil and begin to saute the kale, add in the garlic when the kale starts to wilt. Saute the kale until it is wilted and soft and season it with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

To assemble the lasagna:

24 No-boil lasagna noodles (Barilla makes this and they are pretty easy to find)

1 lb Ricotta Cheese

1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese – or you can use your favorite blend of any Italian cheeses

Basil creme sauce

Butternut squash pure

Sautéed kale

1 lb of you favorite turkey sausage

Sautéed the sausage and brake it into small pieces until it is cooked through – I like the cranberry sausage, apple sausage, or sage sausage from The Turkey Lady in the Lancaster Central Market. I would choose a sweeter sausage rather than a spicy one for this dish.

In a 9×13 inch baking dish,  begin with a layer of creme sauce (a little less than 1/3 of the sauce), top it with about 6 noodles, depending on how they fit, just make sure you make a solid layer. Add about half of the butternut squash puree and about half of the ricotta cheese to the next layer. Top that with the turkey sausage and cover it with another layer of noodles. Cover those noodles with another third of the creme sauce. Add the sauteed kale in the next layer and about half of the shredded cheese. Add another layer of noodles, the rest of the butternut squash puree and the rest of the ricotta cheese. Top it with another layer of noodles and cover them with the rest of the creme sauce. Make sure the whole top layer of noodles is covered or they might not get fully soft. Top the whole thing with the rest of the shredded cheese.

Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10-15 minutes more, until the cheese on top starts to get brown and bubbly. Let the lasagna sit for about 15 minutes before cutting – otherwise the layers might slide and the pieces might fall apart.

I hope you enjoy this dish! It does have a lot of steps but it is delicious. I bet it will become one of your favorite fall foods!

A note about freezing this lasagna:

*You can use a 9×13 inch baking dish or two smaller baking dishes to build this lasagna. It freezes great – both uncooked and cooked!

If you baked a large pan and you have any left over, you can cut it into single portions and wrap the pieces tightly in plastic wrap. You’ll have single servings that you can unwrap and reheat it in the microwave easily.

If you don’t bake a large pan, split it into two baking dishes and freeze one. It is nice to have it on hand to bake it when you need it. It does take a long time to bake when it is frozen… but it tastes like you just made it, even after two months in the freezer! Just make sure you really wrap it up good to prevent freezer burn. You could defrost it in the refrigerator over night or put it in the oven frozen. It may take up to 4 hours to bake through if it is frozen when you pop it in the oven. So plan ahead a little bit.

Grilled Sausages with peppers and onions

I have been trying to use the grill in new ways lately. I wanted to use the cast iron skillet over hot coals to cook something. So, I grilled some onions and peppers in a cast iron skillet to eat with grilled turkey sausages. It was a quick and easy dinner.

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I cut up the peppers and onions and tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper. They went into a small cast iron skillet that I heated on the grill. Once they are on the grill, make sure you turn them over a few times with the tongs or they will burn. I placed the sausages on the outer part of the grill so they cooked a little slower.

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The sausages stayed nice and moist and juicy on the grill. I tossed the sausages into the cast iron skillet after I removed the peppers and onions – just for a minute – to make the outside of them pick up some of the sausage and onion juices left in the skillet.

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I made a spread with spicy brown mustard and horse-radish to spread on the buns: 2 parts mustard to one part horse-radish. Then piled bun with a sausage link and peppers and onions.

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I would like to try to cook other foods on the cast iron skillet. I am open to ideas, so leave a comment if you have any!

 

Italian Night: Stuffed Peppers

I have been craving some pasta and sauce so I made stuffed peppers last night. I really can’t go very many nights without eating some form of Italian dinner involving pasta. The stuffed peppers do not include pasta stuffed inside but I like to cook some and serve the pepper on top of a mound of macaroni.

Whenever I make these it reminds me of home. My mom used to make stuffed peppers a lot when I was growing up… which is probably why I get cravings for them now. I put my own little twist into them every time I make them. This version includes hot Italian sausage and ground beef.

Spicy Stuffed Peppers

1 lb. hot Italian pork sausage

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef

6 large bell peppers (green are traditional, but I  use all colors)

1/2 large yellow onion

4 large cloves garlic

1 tsp. rosemary leaves

1 tbsp. flat leaf parsley

2 tsp. thyme

6 pieces day old white bread (I use bakery bread that’s getting a little stale)

2 eggs

2 tbsp. light cream

1 28 oz. can tomato sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Cut the tops off the peppers and clean out the insides. You will be left with a pepper you can stuff your filling into and it should stand upright. I use a chili pot that six bell peppers fit into nicely.

Remove the stem from the top part of the pepper. You’ll have pretty good amount of left over bell pepper from the six tops you cut off. This will be mixed into the meat filling.

Add the pepper tops, onion, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and parsley to a food processor. Pulse the veggies and herbs until they are mixed and cut into small pieces.

In another bowl, beat the eggs and cream together.

Cut the bread into small cubes and sprinkle it with a little water to make it moist.

Add the vegetable mixture, eggs and cream, sausage, meat, bread cubes and salt and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Mix everything together using your hands until well mixed and it is sticking together. Divide the mixture into 6 portions.

Stuff each pepper with the mixture and place them into the pot, standing upright. Pour the tomato sauce over the top of each one and cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, spooning the sauce over the tops of the peppers periodically. Turn them down to low and let them simmer for 30 minutes more.

The peppers will become soft and tender, the stuffing will be super moist, the sauce will become thin and a little spicy. Serve the peppers on a bed of cooked small pasta (like elbows or ditallini) or with some nice crusty bread and butter to soak up all the yummy sauce.

Mmmm…. Just like my mom used to make.

Sausage with fall veggies and beans

Fall veggies are plentiful and the air is getting chilly. This dish is perfect for this time of year and really easy to make. It’s a one pot meal so the clean up is minimal, which makes it great for weeknights after work because it doesn’t take much time!

You can choose what ever sausage you like. I have made this with sage turkey sausage (from The Turkey Lady), chicken apple sausage, and sweet Italian pork sausage. I think my favorite was the sweet Italian pork sausage.

1 lb. sausage (your choice!)

olive oil

1 large sweet potato

2 medium beets (I like golden beets because they do not turn the whole dish pink)

1 medium sweet onion

I medium carrot

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 can cannellini beans

1 can dark red kidney beans

1 bunch swiss chard or kale

salt and pepper to taste

Add about 2 teaspoons of olive oil to a dutch oven set to medium high heat. Sear the sausages and remove from the pot.

Chop the onion, mince the garlic, and cut the sweet potato, carrot and beets in to 1/4 inch cubes (to match the size of the beans).

Saute the vegetables in the dutch oven for about 5 minutes, until the onions turn translucent.

I used red beets this time, so my final dish turned out pink. I also had to substitute chick peas to the cannellini beans because I didn’t have any cannellini beans left. You can substitute with pink beans as well but I think the cannellini work best in this recipe.

Chop your swiss chard or Kale into smaller pieces. If you decide to use kale, remove the tough stems and use only the leaves. I chose to use black kale this time because it was available at market and it is slightly softer than the regular kale that I usually find. After experimenting a bit, I still really like using the swiss chard.You can use the stems of the Swiss chard too, the red and yellow colors are a nice addition.

Use 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock to deglaze your pot, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the swiss chard or kale and season with salt and pepper. Place the lid on the pot and allow the liquid to boil and cook down the greens (about 7 minutes).

When the greens have reduced in volume, add in the beans. replace the lid and bring the liquid back up to a bubble.

Nestle the sausages back in the pot vegetables. Try to submerge it under the liquid and cover the pot again, bringing the liquid back up to a boil. Allow the sausages finish cooking (about 5-10 minutes, depending on size).

Remove the sausages and slice them into pieces, add the sausages back into the pot and serve…. comfort food for a chilly day.