Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Meat CSA and Zucchini Noodles

First a little overview of the Meat CSA we joined last month, and then fun with a new kitchen toy!

Earlier this summer I went in search of a local meat CSA.  We’ve been really trying to make a point to only buy grass-fed beef, local meats, and either organic chicken or close to it.  Luckily Whole Foods has their animal welfare rating which makes this a lot easier.

I guess you could say the next step would be to try and buy local when possible!  That’s where a meat CSA comes into play.  I’m sure by now you’ve heard of Community Supported Agriculture and probably in terms of veggie shares or fruit shares.  Well a meat CSA works the same way…you purchase a “share” of the farm.

I didn’t have a recommendation when I was looking so I went with a good old internet search, which led me to Chestnut Farms!

Things I was looking for in a CSA were convenience in the pick-up location, price, and information about their farm and how the animals are raised and fed. 

I loved this statement on their website:

“Our CSA is for people who love animals and happen to eat meat.  It is for people who want to know the farmer that raises their food and be sure that the meat they consume is humanely raised without any hormones or antibiotics.”

Couldn’t have said it better. 

Feel free to read more about their farm and their operations on their website!

So right now we opted for a 15lb share (the smallest they offer is 10lbs).  We figured we’d start there and if it was too much we could go down to 10.  Our first pick up was in July and the amount was pretty perfect. 


When you pick up your cooler you bring back the cooler from the month before.  During the pick-up they also have farm fresh eggs for sale, as well as a cooler full of “bits and pieces” that are either free or just $1…these are items like marrow bones, pork fat, bacon ends. 

This months share:


  • a whole chicken
  • chicken breasts
  • 3 packs of ground beef
  • fresh kielbasa
  • bacon
  • 3 packs of sirloin
  • Lamb stew meat!  Excited about the lamb!

Last month was similar except instead of lamb we got pork, and instead of bacon and kielbasas we got homemade fresh chorizo and a couple smoked chicken breasts.



Their ground beef in phenomenal.  I don’t know why it’s SO much better, but it is.  It’s grass fed, and very lean because they don’t add any fat to it.  So you need to make sure you add fat when cooking.  But the first time we made burgers with their beef they were delicious!!


Everything is vacuum sealed and frozen and we just take out what we want when we want it.      

The farm is located out in the middle of Massachusetts and they welcome visitors who want to check it out anytime!   I hope to visit someday soon!

I’m also excited that they offer fresh turkeys for the holidays to shareholders! 

Ok I think I’ve talked enough about my monthly cooler of meat :)  If you have any questions about it just ask!!

I picked up the share yesterday and immediately took out some ground beef for dinner. 

I also broke out a new toy…


My spiralizer!! 

I bought the World Cuisine Spiral Vegetable Slicer from Amazon.

First up…Zucchini!




SO EASY!!  Seriously took 20 seconds to turn a whole zucchini into noodles!

I also whipped up a Bolognese-type sauce


  • Sautéed onions and garlic in a little coconut oil
  • added 1 chopped carrot
  • add ground beef (little over 1 lb)
  • 1 can tomato paste mixed in
  • about 1 cup water/chicken broth/white wine
  • salt/pepper/herbs and spices of your choice
  • simmer
  • stirred in a little half & half at the end :)


I added a pinch of nutmeg to the sauce which made it awesome btw.  Try it. 

For the noodles, I just sautéed them in a little olive oil for just 1-2 minutes just to heat…they barely need to be cooked. 



Love at first bite :)

 Do you belong to any CSA’s??  I always mean to sign up for a veggie one, but never do…plus paying it all upfront makes it a hard one to swallow at the time.  I pay each month with the meat.

Ideas for that fresh kielbasa?????

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Some Local Action

Lots of great LOCAL things this weekend!  Including our dinner tonight!


Roasted chicken from our meat CSA.  We just started this CSA last month through Chestnut Farm, and I’ll tell you a lot more about it later this week after we pick up this month’s share this week! 

Red leaf lettuce and corn from the Farmer’s Market this morning.  The corn was super sweet and I wish we had bought more!  Luckily I have access to various Farmer’s Markets during the week in Boston.  Sometimes I like to swing through at lunch time.

Even the homemade croutons were made from Sour Dough bread from Nashoba Brook Bakery out of West Concord, MA.  So far this is the only TRUE sourdough we can find at Whole Foods (or any of our grocery stores around here).  Even the Whole Foods bakery sourdough has yeast and an added acetic agent.  If you want traditional sourdough bread…which is generally easier to digest because of the fermentation, then it should have basically 2 ingredients….flour and water. Maybe salt.  But NO yeast!!  The yeast is created by a starter of water and flour which creates its own wild yeast. 

I digress….


The chicken was made using my favorite recipe…Thomas Keller’s Simple Roast Chicken.  It’s just the best.   Last time I roasted a chicken I even went back to my previous “go-to” recipe (Barefoot Conetessa’s), but it just wasn’t the same.  Plus this is the SIMPLEST recipe ever.  The high heat + chicken fat can cause some smoke in the oven but this time we put a foil lined cookie sheet underneath to help :)  

It’s SO worth it for that crispy skin!


The corn was grilled.  And the croutons were made last minute by cutting up 2 slices of bread into cubes, heating about 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet, and toasting the bread!  Mmmm buttery grilled bread.

I also whipped up a quick vinaigrette of olive oil, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and dill.


  Dinner was simply awesome.

Earlier in the day we had another Farmer’s Market find of an heirloom “pineapple” tomato, made into caprese salad with basil from our garden. 


IMG_4969 Brian and I devoured this.

In other Local fun…the Healthy Living Summit was this weekend!! 

I had purchased a ticket, but ended up only being able to come for the cocktail party + Saturday morning, but I still had a great time!

The conference was at the Hyatt on Memorial Drive in Cambridge which I actually had never been to before!

view of Boston from across the Charles River taken from the glass elevator inside the hotel!

Got ready for the cocktail partyIMG_3194

Reunited with my HLS 2011 roomie Elizabeth who planned the whole cocktail party!!


She did a bang up job.  And we had fun with the photo booth props during a little Reach the Beach reunion…

IMG_0315 (563x750)

IMG_0313 (750x563)
(above 2 photos from Tina)


(above photo from Ashley)

The night ended with some quality roomie bonding over my first ever Room Service!

Yes we pulled the cart between our beds :)


As I mentioned before I had to cut my HLS short this year…because my friend’s daughter was turning 1!!

I mean who could resist this face…


Concluding with a stop at the new Merrimack Premium Outlets and my weekend has come full circle :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Celebration Weekend

It was an eventful, yet happy and celebratory weekend!

Saturday I had a friend’s baby shower…and there’s nothing cuter than seeing all the cute baby clothes.

And on Sunday I celebrated another friend’s Bridal Shower, AND my aunt and uncle’s 60th birthdays!!

This morning I headed down to my blog-friend-turned-real-friend Elizabeth’s bridal shower!!

She is getting married in November, and today her bridesmaids threw her a beautiful shower down at her family’s house.


There were lots of gifts


Good food


And adorable cupcakes


I was also the first winner at Bridal Bingo!  Booya!


Tina, Elizabeth, and Me :)


I can’t wait for their big day!


Straight from the shower, I headed to my aunt and uncle’s house for a birthday bash that my cousins threw for them!

No lack of amazing food…



Fresh figs on Dubliner cheese…awesome combination!!



Giant bowl of tomato & mozzarella salad!!


The main dish…Lobster Rolls…tons and tons of lobster rolls


On hot buttery rolls.  Drooling just looking at the picture now.  I had one, and then split another with Brian later.

But I think my FAVORITE dish of the day was this Mexican Seafood Cocktail


It was similar to a cold gazpacho, but it had lots of crab meat, shrimp, and big chunks of avocado!


SOOooo delicious.  The recipe is here on Epicurious, and I NEED to make this soon!!       

There was also two huge Pavlovas for dessert (giant meringue topped with fresh whipped cream and strawberries),  along with a pink champagne birthday cake!  

It was a fun and delicious afternoon with family!

This weekend flew by, and sadly work tomorrow!  

Question… what’s you’re favorite meal to make in the heat of the summer??  I feel like I’ve had less and less meals to post on here because I’m just not cooking as much or as creatively in this hot summer heat!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Maine + Friends + Concert + Lobster

I had a crazy fun weekend in one of my favorite places and want to give you guys the slightly abbreviated re-cap.  I didn't bring my real camera with me, so iPhone/instagram will have to do.


It started after work Friday with a little work event at the Harpoon Brewery down in the Seaport area.  I actually can't believe I haven't been here before.  We didn't do a tour, but our group and another private group had one of their tasting rooms where you can just hang out and sample as many beers as you want in the hour and a half time frame...they were nice and let us stay till 7:15 instead of 7 :). They had about 12 beers on tap to try.


First up for me was the UFO Pumpkin!  I know some people are all "noooo, too soon for pumpkin!" but I am not one of them.  It's getting to that time during the summer where I can't WAIT for fall.  I remember enjoying UFO's pumpkin last year and it was just as delicious this year.  I also tried their barrel aged White IPA, their Cider (which was actually amazing, and I didn't think I was a big cider fan), the Leviathan series Red Squared, and finished off the evening back at Pumpkin.

The Red Squared was good, but I could only handle a small taste…very strong, and somewhat bitter. 

I'd definitely recommend going there and doing the tour! Then you can sample the beers after.  While my co-workers headed down Seaport Blvd to continue the evening, Brian picked me up and we headed to Olives in Charlestown for my best friend's birthday dinner!

IMG_3152Blurry :(

I hadn't been to Olives since 2007 but it was just as good as I remember...although I hope their AC compressor arrives because it was quite humid and uncomfortable in there that night.


The next morning Brian, Bromley, and I hopped in the car and headed north....destination: Portland, ME.

A group of friends and I got tickets to the Gentlemen of the Road show, being headlined by Mumford & Sons in Portland.


We ended up stopping on the way up in Portsmouth for a late breakfast/early lunch.

Iced coffee from Breaking New Grounds and a salad from The Works.



Hit the spot.

We then continued another hour north to Portland.  I didn't have a dog-sitter, so we took Bromley and stayed at my friends house who lives about 10min from Portland.  It was nice not having to pay for a hotel, not worry about the dog, and relax before the show!

My friend and a few others were biking over from her boyfriends office, but dropped us off less than 2miles from the venue.  The concert had a bicycle valet to encourage people to ride over!! How cool is that?!

It was a pretty warm and humid days but being along the coast made it much more bearable.  Brian and I walked through The Old Port and then down the bike path that runs along the bay.



We had lovely views on the walk over. 

Then we arrived!  The concert took place on the Eastern Promenade which is a big grassy hill overlooking the Bay.  The area was gorgeous with the ocean in the background of the stages.


This was the biggest concert that the city of Portland has had here, so it was a big deal for everyone around the area.  Plus there were a bunch of bars/restaurants that hosted after-parties.  It’s a perfect area for something like this…very walkable. 

It was a big insane inside if you wanted a beer or food.  They had a TON of different food vendors…all the food truck companies in the City!!  However the lines were ridiculous and I was SOOO happy we ate beforehand. 

The beer lines were also a bit crazy, but they actually went faster than they looked.


Shipyard and Gritty’s were the two beer sponsors….yay for good beer at a concert!   

We arrived around 5 (show started at 2 but there were 6 bands).  I don’t know who was playing when we first arrived, but once we got settled we saw Dawes…who I hadn’t actually heard of, but they were really good! 

Then a surprise short set by The Dropkick Murphy’s!  They were playing a separate after-show at a nearby theater, so this wasn’t expected!  Very cool!!

Then Mumford came on! 


Honestly, going into the concert I was a fan, but not really a huge fan…I liked their songs, but didn’t actually even have the album…woops.  Well that is all changing, because I thought they were phenomenal!  They sounded amazing and I realized I  like a lot more of their songs than I thought.

Here’s a little snip-it from “Little Lion Man” which was the 2nd song they played.

Sorry, wish I recorded longer!!

It got dark as they continued…


It was just a really nice night, awesome concert, gorgeous venue, and one of my favorite places.

  The next morning, Brian and I headed back into the Old Port for brunch.

We went to The Farmers Table, and luckily snagged a table outside.

So guess who likes runny egg yolks now????  THIS GIRL!


I only JUST recently started to like them and am SO happy about it!  I don’t know what it was but they grossed me out.  Actually I didn’t even really like eggs at all until some point late in college.  And even then only eggs with “stuff” in them like omelets or scrambles with veggies and cheese. 

So when I recently made that yummy sweet potato hash….remember?  I just KNEW it would be the perfect time to try it out.  Delish. 

So, to get back to this weekend..that was my first time EVER ordering eggs Benedict with actual poached eggs.  This Benedict had thick Canadian bacon, sliced tomato, arugula, the egg, and hollandaise.  Loved it.

Brian had their braised brisket and sweet potato hash with over-easy eggs and hollandaise.  Also amazing.

And if that wasn’t a good enough food weekend (I should mention we grabbed some apps at Fore Street after the concert, and stopped at Two Fat Cats bakery earlier in the day as well)….

We stopped by a fish market and grabbed 4 lobsters to bring home. 


Lobster Feast.  

Top Notch weekend right there! 

Have you ever been to “all day” type concerts/festivals??  This wasn’t exactly all day…and honestly I don’t know how people sit out in the heat for entire days!!  We were there for about 4-5 hours and that was PLENTY!

Also if you live in New England, or anywhere for that matter, and haven’t been to Portland, ME….GO!!