Quick and Easy Ratatouille

When questioning how to prep vegetables on any given day, it’ll usually ends with sautéed and a dash of salt/pepper (tasty but kinda boring)… until now. That glorious aroma of Italian Seasoning in the air and a beautiful display of sliced zucchini, onion, tomato and eggplant. Bring on the ratatouille! Even my farmer husband went back for seconds, I’d say that makes this recipe a keeper.

Makes: 8 servings

 

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 small red onion, diced

1 can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, oregano, 15 ounces

1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

 

2 hot house tomatoes, sliced

1 large zucchini, sliced

1 eggplant, sliced

1 small red onion, sliced

Olive oil cooking spray

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat cast iron skillet on medium-low on the stovetop. Add olive oil, bell pepper, onion and diced tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add sugar, salt and pepper to tomatoes and continue to cook for 10 more minutes. Stir every couple minutes, allowing mixture to thicken as liquid reduces.
  4. Remove tomato mixture from cast iron skillet and transfer to food processor. Pulse tomato mixture to a creamy texture with few chunks of vegetables.
  5. Return tomato mixture to cast iron skillet.
  6. Layer sliced tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and onion slices on top of tomato mixture in a circular formation.
  7. Lightly spray vegetables with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  8. Place cast iron skillet in oven and roast vegetables for 30 minutes.

 

Notes

For an extra burst of Italian flavor, don’t shy away from adding fresh or dried oregano, basil and parsley. Season to your preference!


Thick & Creamy Gouda Macaroni

I know I say this farm family loves their meat & potatoes (which we do), but we also have a special place in our hearts for some good ol’ fashioned macaroni and cheese. A comfort food, perfect for any occasion. I took on the challenge to build mac & cheese into a bit more of a balanced plate by creating a Farm-Style Buddha Bowl– this deliciously cheesy pasta topped with protein and veggie. Yum! What would you top your bowl with?

Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients

2 cups dry pasta

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 1/2 cups milk

5 slices of gouda cheese, 1/8″ thick and chopped into small pieces

4 oz cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente and set aside.
  2. In the same stockpot (after pasta is removed), melt butter on medium heat. When melted, add flour and whisk together. This is a roux!
  3. Cook the roux on medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Add milk to the roux and continue to stir. Let cook for 5 minutes. The sauce will slowly begin to thicken during this time.
  5.  Remove sauce from heat and add cheeses, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  6. When cheese is melted, fold pasta into the sauce.

Notes

Depending on the type of pasta you decide to use, you may need more or less milk. Also depends on how thick and creamy you prefer your mac & cheese 🙂

Gouda cheese can be substituted for just about any other cheese. Go ahead and get creative! I will usually purchase cheese sliced from the deli and chop this into small pieces at home before adding to the sauce.


Corned Beef Hash

CornedBeefHash

When indulging at a local breakfast diner, you can pretty much guarantee either Scott or I will order the corned beef hash topped with fried eggs. Glorious! After our last breakfast date, I decided I needed to attempt a quick-and-easy corned beef hash skillet at home. Using corned beef sliced fresh from the deli saves LOTS of time, so the most effort for this treat is waiting for the skillet to cook, golden brown and crispy.

Makes: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

3 cups potatoes, cubed

1 cup sweet onion, sliced

1 cup red bell pepper, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Beef Seasoning

1/2 pound corned beef, chopped thin

4 eggs, prepared any style

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine the potatoes, onion, peppers and oil in a large cast iron skillet.
  3. Sprinkle with beef seasoning.
  4.  Fold in corned beef.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring the mixture once or twice before finished.
  6. Top skillet with eggs.

 

Notes

Eggs with a little ooze are just perfect plopped on top of this skillet. Bursting with flavor and a fantastic pair with the seasoned potatoes and beef. Still, I’m a dietitian and must recommend cooking to 160 degrees for food safety 🙂

Speaking of beef seasoning, check out this recipe from Kids, Cows and Grass. THE BEST, keep it stocked in your pantry. At. All. Times.


One Year of Life as a Farmer’s Wife

 

The first year of married life has come and gone, and now, hopeful for the many more to come! This week, Scott and I celebrated our one year anniversary. Folks aren’t joking when they say, “Time FLIES”! One year of life as a farmer’s wife, and one year of lessons learned. Let me share a few with you 🙂

  1. Over the years, I’ve binge-watched plenty of HGTV and have grown fond of the ever-popular farmhouse style. White and neutral tones flood our home. A year later, the term “farmhouse” to describe this style of interior decorating has me stumped. With the constant traffic of work boots and filthy hands from handling cattle, it’s become obvious that white is not at all cut out for the actual farmhouse style. Lesson learned.
  2. Scott once asked me if we ought to plant alfalfa for hay bales this year. Bring it on, why not? The seed was planted last fall and sprouted in the spring. Over time, the crop was ready for harvest. Then comes the moment you realize that bales are rolled at night… as in begin working at 10 p.m. and finished at 3 a.m. Another lesson learned.
  3.  A home-grown vegetable garden has always been a dream of mine. Fresh squash, cucumbers and cantaloupe. A dietitian’s dream. Scott was on board with my plans and even built raised beds, a real fancy garden! He spread soil and, of course, a little fertilizer. I understand now that a “little” is an BIG understatement. The dozens of dried clumps of cow manure (that would typically cover over half an acre of pasture) may have been a little overkill for the two 4’x4′ garden beds we have in the yard. That puts a little damper on the term “fresh vegetables”, especially when they begin growing in shapes and colors I’ve never seen that vegetable in before.  Another lesson learned.
  4. On the note of gardens and our yard and such, a farmer’s most prized accessory– the rain gauge. Our yard happens to be home to two, one for the front and one for the back (because cloud coverage and rainfall may differ over 100 ft? I’m not sure). Either way, dumping the gauge before Scott’s read it as a good ol’ fashioned morning prank is not as funny as you’d think. For those of you having a mild panic attack at that thought, yes, I made a mental note of the reading for him. Still doesn’t change how NOT funny it was. Another lesson learned.
  5. My love language happens to be quality time. Quality time was redefined over this last year to include, but is not limited to, plenty of tractor time (which I love). The pieces of farm equipment that were foreign to me only a few short years ago now have my permanent indention on the passenger seat. Another lesson learned.
  6. With a bit of a Type A personality, I tend to love plans. Not only is my monthly calendar organized, but also, my daily–complete with a to-do list (it’s okay to cringe a little). Flexibility has never been my strong suite, so imagine my surprise when I have supper hot and ready for 6:30 p.m. and Scott’s chair at the kitchen table is empty. Unfortunately, the farm isn’t always able to stick to my plans. Another lesson learned.
  7. The radio, a previous companion of mine during long hours on the road, has certain stations it WILL play at certain times. This includes Farm Talk Radio, Kansas City Royal’s baseball games, the Market Report and all pre- or post-game talks for Kansas State University. This is non-negotiable. Another lesson learned.
  8. Tater Tot Casserole. If you are like me, this would mean nothing. If you are like Scott, you’d have a pile of drool hanging from the corner of your mouth by now. Luckily, this was a recipe I could learn quickly to keep a happy husband. Ground beef–French onion seasoning–cream of mushroom soup–frozen tots–shredded cheese. Nailed it. Another lesson learned.
  9. Yes, the tractor does have brakes; however, the farmer is only willing to use those brakes a limited number of times. We only have so much daylight! Plan your tractor rides and meals accordingly. Another lesson learned.
  10. I was raised to be a strong, independent woman. This may have something to do with being the youngest of three girls, and my dad never having a son to teach the handy-man way of life to. A year later though, I now understand the importance of being vulnerable enough to ask for help. Faith, family and friends are essential in the life of a farmer’s wife. Extra thankful for all three! Another lesson learned.

Not a lesson learned, but something I’ve known for awhile now. I am married to an incredible man. Between the long hours at the farm, he still walks into our home every day with the biggest grin and brightest eyes. His perseverance through the tough times astounds me, driven by hope and a trusting faith. Not a man of all too many words, he still gives a listening ear and has a willingness to learn. First a son, next a farmer, then a husband, and now, A DAD.

Lots of adventures ahead! Baby Stroberg is expected in September 2018. Follow along with our growing farm family for year two!

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Black Bean Dip

BeanDip

 

I spent 4 glorious years on the Kansas State University campus. Studying, yes. Chowing down on delicious grub, yes. One of the ultimate stops in Manhattan, KS is So Long Saloon. I’m beginning to drool just imaging those burgers. A stop at So Longs was never complete without their ever-famous Chipotle Raspberry & Black Bean Dip. Being that we are a couple hours from Manhattan, KS,  I had to find a way to kick this bean dip craving. Here’s what I’ve got, see what you think!

Makes: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

15 oz can low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup raspberry jam

1 jalapeño, diced

1 cup mozzarella cheese

4 oz cream cheese, block

tortilla chips

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the beans, jam, jalapeño and mozzarella in a cast iron skillet.
  3. Place the cream cheese in the center of the mixture.
  4.  Bake dip for 30 minutes or to desired warmness.

 

Notes

It’s a dip, so of course, you can enjoy with tortilla strips or other desirable dippers. BUT, you could also mix things up, enjoy this bean dip layered on a burger or sandwich, or even smothered over chicken or pork. You won’t regret it. I promise.