Sunday, July 31, 2011

I'm Back...With Goods from My Garden and Some Great Zucchini Recipes!

Hi all! I know that I promised a post from the farm, but I never imagined that this week in my hometown would be so incredibly busy! I managed to squeeze in a camping trip, a day of shopping with my sisters, a photo shoot with my children and all of my nieces and nephews, a morning of corn picking and freezing, and my cousin's wedding into the week. Plus, I worked a little bit while I was home too. I did a Pampered Chef party on Thursday and taught a cooking class at a local kitchen/cabinetry store yesterday. Busy, busy! I'm working on getting all of the pictures together for one BIG "Post from the Farm" tomorrow.

After 4 hours on the road today, I returned home to my garden this evening. When I'm home, I like to spend a little time in my garden every night after dinner. I really missed this nightly ritual while I was away. I was so excited to see that I had green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, more radishes and lettuce, peppers and zucchini ready to harvest tonight. I also had a whole lot of weeds to pull!

Here are some pictures of what I picked tonight.

The cucumbers. I'm hoping to make pickles tomorrow.

Lots of lettuce.

Check out my first tomato from the garden! Tomatoes fresh from the garden are THE BEST!

Oh, and these giant zucchini. They weren't even ready to pick last week before I left. The tiny zucchini were still attached to the flowers 9 days ago. Now they are enormous!

After all of the junk that I ate today (Breakfast at a local diner with my parents before we left this morning, fast food for lunch on the road, and a couple of cookies from a gas station) I decided to make a salad from my garden for dinner. It totally hit the spot!

Now that I'm home, I'm a little overwhelmed by all of the "stuff" that has piled up during my week away. I know that I need to make a meal plan and shop for groceries too. I did come up with a rough meal plan based on the items in my fridge, freezer, and garden. Tomorrow night I'm making my Grandma's Zucchini Casserole for dinner. If you haven't tried it yet, this recipe is a winner!

If you're picking a lot of zucchini in your garden right now or if you're buying it up at inexpensive, seasonal prices because you just "love" this versatile vegetable, then here are some recipes that are definitely worth a try!

Zucchini Ribbon Primavera

Zucchini Skillet Dinner

Saltimbocca of Zucchini

Skillet Lasagna

Baked Penne with Summer Squash, Tomato, and Basil

Garden Summer Squash with Noodles

Farmer's Market Salad

Oh, and this Farmer's Breakfast Casserole.

And don't miss out on this one....

Bacon and Tomato Cheese Toasts. Deee-licious!


Vegetable Soup which is perfect to make right now while the veggies are fresh and inexpensive. And you can freeze it for later!

While zucchini plays the starring vegetable role in many savory dishes, it's great for baked goods too! Try these:

Zucchini Bread AND...

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

I hope that you all have a wonderful week! Stay tuned for my latest "Post from the Farm", plus I'm making pickles this week....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cookout Companions: BLT Macaroni Salad and Banana Split Cake

I know that I promised to continue my "Posts from the Farm" series while I'm visiting my family this week. But before I get into my adventures in the Indiana countryside over the new few days, I wanted show you what I cooked up before I left home (or I may never remember to post these recipes).

One of my uncles and my cousin came to stay with us for a couple of days last week. I'd decided that we would cook burgers and brats on the grill for dinner on one of the evenings of their visit. It was the perfect meal with which to try out a new pasta salad recipe. This BLT Pasta Salad was an excellent accompaniment to our dinner.

The recipe called for macaroni, but I used shell-shaped pasta due to a macaroni shortage in my pantry. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, then drain and pour it into a large serving bowl.

You'll notice from the picture below that I stirred some bacon into the pasta. I started adding ingredients BEFORE carefully reading the recipe. According to the recipe, I was supposed to add the bacon just before serving. Ooops. Actually, I caught my mistake before I added all of the bacon, so I only added about half and stirred in the rest just before serving.  No biggie, though. I think that you could do it either way and the salad will turn out just fine. The bacon didn't get all gross and soggy or chewy and I think it was nice to put it in ahead of time so that the flavors could all blend together.

Now that I've beaten the topic of the bacon in this salad to death now, let's move on.

The dressing for the salad is super simple. Just stir together mayonnaise, vinegar, and some salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the pasta.

Add in tomatoes, celery, and chopped green onion. Stir it all together and let the salad chill for at least two hours. (I made mine a day in advance).

Stir in one pound of crumbled, crispy bacon before serving.

YUM! I really liked this salad. I'd definitely make it again. If you're a fan of BLT's you'll like this one.

BLT Macaroni Salad from Taste of Home

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
5 green onions, finely chopped
1 large tomato, diced
1-1/4 cups diced celery
1-1/4 cups mayonnaise
5 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. In a large bowl, combine the macaroni, green onions, tomato and celery. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over macaroni mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Just before serving, add bacon. Yield: 12 servings.

Nutritional Analysis: 3/4 cup equals 290 calories, 25 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 19 mg cholesterol, 387 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 6 g protein.

And now for dessert!

I based this Banana Split Dessert on a recipe I found in an old copy of Kraft Food and Family magazine. I spruced it up a bit, adding in chocolate and strawberries and garnishing with cherries on top. The result was a big hit with my family and our guests.

Here's the how-to:

Begin by mixing graham cracker crumbs with a little butter and sugar.

Then press the crumbs into the bottom of a 9X13 in. dish. Pop the dish into the freezer for 10 minutes.

While the crust chills, combine cream cheese and sugar.

Spread the cream cheese mixture over the graham cracker crust.

Then squeeze on some chocolate syrup.

Top with sliced strawberries.

And crushed pineapple.

And of course, bananas.

Then mix up some instant vanilla pudding.

Fold a cup of whipped topping into the pudding.

Spread the pudding mixture over the top of the bananas.

Top with more whipped topping.

Garnish with heated hot fudge or more chocolate syrup and maraschino cherries just before serving.

Make sure you do it JUST before doesn't look very pretty the next day.

Although, I can assure you that it tasted just fine the next day...and the next!

Banana Split Dessert

Honey Grahams, crushed (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 cup sugar, divided
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
Chocolate Syrup
1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple in juice, drained
2 cups sliced strawberries
4 bananas, sliced
2 pkg. (3.4 oz. each)Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
2 cups cold milk
2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, divided
Maraschino cherries (for garnish)

Make It
MIX crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and butter; press onto bottom of 13x9-inch pan. Freeze 10 min.

BEAT cream cheese and remaining sugar with mixer until well blended. Spread carefully over crust; top with chocolate sauce, then strawberries, then pineapple. Slice bananas; arrange over pineapple.

BEAT pudding mixes and milk with whisk 2 min. until well blended. Stir in 1 cup COOL WHIP; spread over banana layer in pan. Top with remaining COOL WHIP. Refrigerate 5 hours. Drizzle with chocolate syrup or heated fudge just before serving; arrange over dessert. Top with cherries to garnish.

Stay tuned tomorrow for my first "Post from the Farm" this summer. I have some exciting footage to share of the biggest caterpillar I've ever seen!

Oh, and don't forget to enter the contest to win 6 recipe booklets from GOYA foods. I've only gotten 3 entries, so the odds are good!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Apron Winner and ANOTHER Weekend Giveaway!

The random integer generator has selected a winner from the entries in the Shabby Apple Apron contest. Congratulations to Katie, momof2girls! You won!

And now, for ANOTHER giveaway!

Until recently, I only knew about Goya brand products from seeing and purchasing them in the "World Foods" section of my local supermarket. Then the folks at Goya Foods, America's largest Hispanic-owned food company, contacted me inform my readers about their awesome $75,000, 75th Birthday Sweepstakes.

To celebrate its 75th birthday, Goya has launched the Match Your Birthday! Game . This contest consists of an online game, on-pack game, mail-in sweepstakes and Goya's Greatest Fan video/photo/essay contest. In total, there are ten different opportunities for participants to potentially win $75,000! Consumers can also receive a special Goya 75th Birthday Gift Pack just by playing either the online or - on-pack game.

Here's a little more about Goya Foods:
Celebrating its 75th year in business in 2011, Goya Foods is America's largest Hispanic-owned food company, and has established itself as the leader in Latino foods and ingredients. Goya manufactures, packages and distributes over 1,500 high-quality food products from every region of Latin America and Spain. Goya products have their roots in the culinary traditions of Hispanic communities around the world; the mix of authentic ingredients, robust seasonings and convenient preparation makes Goya products ideal for nearly every taste and table.

If you want to bring zest and new flavors to the table, then try the many different creative ways to use the wide array of Goya's products. Popular product lines include beans, seasonings, seasoned rice mixes, tomato-based products, nectars, green olives and olive oil. You can explore exciting meal ideas by discovering the many simple to prepare and delicious recipes on
Not only is Goya Foods sponsoring this awesome sweepstakes (I mean, who couldn't use a cool $75,000?!) they also sent me 2 of their "75th Anniversary Collection of Recipes Celebrating the Flavors of Latin American and Spain". One boxed set of 6 recipe books is for me and the other one will go to one of you lucky readers! 5 of the recipe booklets are divided into regions: Mexico, Central America, South America, Spain, and the Caribbean, and the final booklet covers Latin Fusion cooking. I am so excited to try some of these recipes! The pictures look delicious!

1) Play the Match Your Birthday Game for an entry in their $75,000 sweepstakes then leave a comment here.

For additional chances to win:

2) "Like" Goya Foods on Facebook, then comment back here.

3) "Like" Krista's Kitchen on Facebook,then comment back here.

4) Visit the Goya site and choose which recipe you would like to try first then let me know about it in the comments section of this blog.

5) Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter and report back here. 

6) Follow Krista' and let me know in the comments below after you have clicked the "follow" button in my left sidebar.

Ready. Set. Go! " Like", "Follow", "Tweet", and WIN! Good luck, everyone!

The contest begins now and will close at 11:59 pm EST on Friday, July 29th.  The winner will be announced on Monday, August 1st. 

*It is the winner's responsibility to check this blog for the announcement and claim that prize within 48 hours. After 48 hours, the prize will be forfeited.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Farmers Market Salad

Since it's farmers market season and all of that labor spent on our gardens is starting to pay off with fresh vegetables, I thought that this recipe was perfect for the meal plan this week!

The verdict: major yum! With temperatures climbing into the 90's today, this cool, tasty salad totally hit the spot. It's packed with good things like fresh green beans, zucchini, tomato, eggs, and bacon and then smothered in ranch dressing. You can't go wrong with ranch dressing. From my experience, my family will eat just about anything if they can dip it in ranch or if I smoother it in processed cheese. This ranch dressing, made with light sour cream and skim milk is definitely the less of those two "evils".

I started by snapping the green beans. I have extensive experience with snapping green beans. You can read more about that HERE.

I purchased my green beans at the grocery today. I looked for them at the local farmers market on Saturday, but no one seemed to have beans. Maybe they're just not ready here yet? I know the green beans in my garden aren't even close to ready.

I dropped the beans into salted boiling water to cook for 3-4 minutes. You don't want to thoroughly cook them, you still want them to "snap" when you bend them in half. (Mushy green beans would not be a good addition to this salad.)

Remove the green beans with a slotted spoon, then drop thinly sliced zucchini and yellow squash into the water for a few minutes.

Drain the squash. Then add the green beans and the squash to a large salad bowl.  I sprinkled mine with a little salt and pepper after tasting them.

Then add some chopped hard-boiled eggs and crispy-fried BACON! I tripled the amount of bacon in this recipe. Bacon is awesome. I'm pretty sure that this salad was so amazing because there was bacon in every bite.

Sequentially, this picture is not in the correct order. I actually made the dressing first so that it could thicken in the fridge. It's just sour cream, milk, and a packet of ranch dressing mix. Because I had just enough sour cream left in the manufacturer's container, I poured in the milk and dressing mix, then returned the lid and shook it up to mix. It worked beautifully!

Pour the dressing over all of the ingredients in your salad bowl and toss to combine.

Then top with tomatoes (These tomatoes are the only component of this salad that I bought at the farmers market. Ha!) and chill for at least an hour before serving.

And there you have it: A gorgeous, delicious salad your friends and family will love!

Here's the recipe, which I adapted from Tasty Kitchen.

Farmers Market Salad

½ cups Light Sour Cream
½ cups Skim Milk
½ containers Ranch Dressing Mix
1 pound Green Beans
3 whole Zucchini (or 2 zucchini and a yellow squash)
4 whole Hard Boiled Eggs
1/2 lb. Thick Cut Bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
1 teaspoon Salt
pepper, to taste
1 Large Red Tomato

Start by mixing the sour cream (regular or light) with the milk. Add the ranch dressing mix and whisk or shake it till combined. Put it in the fridge to thicken.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. While you wait for the water to boil, snap the ends of the green beans and rinse them thoroughly. Then wash the zucchini and slice them with a vegetable peeler. Cut the hard boiled eggs into small cubes.

Now put the green beans into the pot of boiling water and blanch them until barely tender (you want them to have some “snap”). Remove with a slotted spoon (you will need the water for the zucchini, so don’t dump everything into a colander). Rinse the green beans under cold water to stop the cooking and set aside.

Blanch the zucchini very briefly in the hot water you used to cook the green beans. Now you can use a colander to remove them, or you can use a slotted spoon. Rinse them briefly under cold water.

In a large and pretty salad bowl, mix the green beans, zucchini, eggs, bacon and salad dressing mix. Season with salt and pepper. Taste, adding more salt as necessary. Return to the fridge for at least an hour. You want this cold!

Just before serving, seed and chop a tomato and sprinkle it over the salad to make it even prettier. Do not mix the tomato into the salad.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chicken Skewers with Cool Avocado Sauce and the Meal Plan 7/18- 7/21

I'm just now catching up on my weekend posts. This was our dinner on Friday night. When I found this recipe in Taste of Home magazine I was curious about how the flavors would work together. Lime, balsamic vinegar, and chipotle pepper in adobo sauce? Hmmm. The two reviews that I read on the website stated the that flavor was "unremarkable" and "needed work". I have to say that I disagree. The flavor of the chicken skewers was unique. Definitely tangy- probably due to the acid in the lime juice and vinegar. We grilled ours over charcoal which I think added another dimension to the flavor. And I really enjoyed the avocado sauce. My whole family, kids included, ate this without complaint. I personally really enjoyed it.

Here's how it came together:

First, I zested a lime for the sauce using my awesome microplane grater.

Then I squeezed a couple of limes for the marinade and the sauce with my favorite juicer.

Next, I seeded and chopped a couple of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce.

With all of the zesting, juicing, and chopping finished I went about the "pounding" step. Place 1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a large, resealable plastic bag and pound to 1/4" thickness.

Cut the flattened chicken into 1" strips and place them in a large, resealable plastic bag.

Add 1/2 cup of lime juice to the bag with the chopped chipotle peppers, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and salt. Refrigerate for 30 minutes-2 hours. (Mine marinated for two hours).

Thread the chicken strips onto skewers. I recommend soaking wooden skewers in water for 20 minutes before skewering the meat.

While the grill heats, make the avocado sauce. I just tossed all of the ingredients into my immersion blender mixing cup. This is sour cream, avocado, a couple teaspoons of lime juice, a teaspoon of lime zest, and a little salt. I added extra cilantro. I'm digging the fresh taste of cilantro lately.

Blend until smooth.

This made a thick, creamy sauce. I really loved the flavors. Later that night, I mixed some chopped tomato and diced red onion into the leftover sauce for a quick snack of chips and guacamole.

Grill the chicken as directed. It cooks fast. Just 4 minutes per side. You don't want to overcook the chicken. In my opinion, dry, overcooked chicken is every bit as disgusting as undercooked chicken. Both are inedible.

Here they are hot off the grill.

While my husband grilled the skewers, I cut and washed the first crop of lettuce from our garden. It was delicious served with just a drizzle of salad dressing alongside our chicken. Oh how I love my garden!

With the addition of some cheesy rice, this was dinner. I'm still not sure why the recipe received poor reviews. The combination of chicken and sauce was yummy! Maybe ours was tastier because I added just a little more salt and allowed the chicken to marinate longer?

Here's the recipe from Taste of Home:

Chicken Skewers with Cool Avocado Sauce

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1/2-1 teaspoon salt

1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon grated lime peel
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt

•Flatten chicken to 1/4-in. thickness; cut lengthwise into sixteen
1-in.-wide strips. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the
lime juice, vinegar, chipotle pepper and salt; add the chicken. Seal
bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

•Meanwhile, for the sauce, place remaining ingredients in a food
processor; cover and process until blended. Transfer to a serving
bowl; cover and refrigerate until serving.

•Drain chicken and discard marinade. Thread meat onto four metal or
soaked wooden skewers. Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper
towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack.

•Grill, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from the heat for
8-12 minutes or until no longer pink, turning frequently. Serve with
sauce. Yield: 16 skewers (3/4 cup sauce).

Nutrition Facts: 1 skewer with about 2 teaspoons sauce equals 59 calories, 3 g fat (trace saturated fat), 17 mg cholesterol, 74 mg sodium, 3 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 6 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1 lean meat, 1/2 fat.

And now for the meal plan....

This is a short week of meals for us. I only need to come up with 4 meals (Monday-Thursday) and then I'm leaving town. Wednesday we will have out-of-town company, so we're planning a cook out. For those of you who are fans of my "Posts from the Farm" series, stay tuned! I'll be posting from "the farm" (my parent's house in Indiana) all next week.

Here is my abbreviated meal plan:

Monday July 18th

Farmers Market Salad (bumped from last week)

Tuesday July 19th

Weeknight Ravioli Bake

Wednesday July 20th

Burgers on the Grill (try Totally Edible Turkey Burgers)
BLT Macaroni Salad
Banana Split Cake

Thursday July 21st

Barbecued Brisket from the freezer

Grocery List (does not include Barbecued Beef Brisket ingredients)


1 lb. green beans
3 zucchini
2-3 tomatoes
lettuce and onion (if desired for the burgers)
green onions
6 bananas


2 lbs. bacon
hamburger patties


light sour cream
8 oz. shredded Italian blend cheese
Parmesan cheese
2 blocks cream cheese

Canned Goods

1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
crushed pineapple
chocolate syrup

Dry Goods

1 packet ranch dressing mix
hamburger buns
elbow macaroni
graham crackers or graham cracker crumbs (1-1/2 cups)
2 packets instant vanilla pudding

2 lbs. fresh (in the refrigerator section in the deli) or frozen cheese ravioli
1 tub whipped topping

I hope that you all have a wonderful week!

Oh, and if you missed it, don't forget to enter my giveaway for a very cool apron HERE.
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