Category Archives: Garden

Stuffed Peppers

DSC_9123 (1600x1060)So then, what to stuff these babies with was the question.  There are many more recipes out there than I had peppers for so I stuck close to the basic recipe of tomatoes + meat + rice, after toying with one that featured an egg baked on the top.  Maybe sometime…DSC_9133 (1600x1060)

I made two versions today, one with sauteed grape tomatoes and pancetta and the other with crumbled Italian sausage and roasted grape tomatoes.  Don’t ask which is which in the photo, though if pressed I would say the pancetta variant is in the foreground.  Both recipes combined the meat plus tomato with brown rice and shredded mozzarella.  They baked at 400 for about 25 minutes, more shredded mozzarella added to the top during the last few minutes.DSC_9135 (1600x1060)I didn’t parboil the peppers, hoping they would turn out soft enough.  I think they were just right.  I cut the first pepper right down the middle but that resulted in a pair of pepper platters rather than two bowls so I ended up cutting about a third off of the remaining peppers and using the two thirds left for filling and baking.  I opened a jar of my famous Awesome Sauce to pour into the bottom of the casserole.  It was pretty thick and was looking to dry out and burn so I splashed a little water in there when the cheese topping went on.  Both versions were tasty.  Mrs J couldn’t pick a favorite, liking them both equally.

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Tidbits

DSC_9071 (1600x1060)We took another stab at fried pies using the cherry filling-in-a-tube.  They work a lot better using Mrs J’s recipe for the crust instead of the pre rolled pie crusts we tried a while back.  There will be more pie:DSC_9125 (1600x1060)These are the tubes of fillings I mentioned:  From L to R,  Banana, Lemon, and Chocolate.  They’ll make a ton of fried pies.DSC_9118 (1600x1060)We thought chicken chili with white beans looked good when we saw a picture the other day.  A search through recipes online led me to this one by the Neelys on the Food network.  I looked for poblano peppers at the store this morning but they didn’t have any, I subbed a couple of my own Anaheims and a small can of chopped green chilies.  Turned out pretty good.  We used a can of Great Northerns and two cans of cannellini beans.DSC_9123 (1600x1060)Speaking of peppers, Mrs J brought in several nice green peppers from the garden this morning.  These are Giant Marconi peppers, I think, not the green bells that they look like.  I used the last batch with celery and onions to make a big batch of the Cajun Trinity, sealing it in several vacuum bags for the freezer.  We’re big fans of gumbo.  I’m not sure what these will be used for, I think I may stuff and bake a few…DSC00379 (1600x1200)Here’s a puppy!  The bone is nearly as big as he is.  I know nothing about this one.DSC_9114 (1600x1060)I dug a beef brisket out a few weeks ago and brined it per Alton Brown’s corned beef recipe.  I took it out and smoked it for several hours and then finished in the oven.  I sliced and sealed it into plastic bags in one pound portions, all save this bit I used to make pastrami hash yesterday.DSC_9093 (1600x1060)Mmm… tacos!  These are pork with guacamole, sour cream, pickled jalapenos, shredded lettuce, cheese, and a mole made from dried peppers that were simmered and then pureed with garlic and oregano.DSC00555 (1600x1200)I’ll close this out with a kitty lounging in one of Mrs J’s cat beds.  She buys a lot of the materials needed for these but there are more and more donations of fabrics and fillers now that word is out that she can turn them into nice things for the shelter pets.  I think the pad under the puppy with the bone is one of her creations, too.

Roasted Grape Tomatoes

We have a couple of grape tomato bushes out back and they have been churning out tomatoes by the score.  I went out this morning and picked a half bucketful and there were that many on the ground.  I went looking for a roasting recipe and Martha Stewart came through for me.DSC_9082 (1600x1060)I used more olive oil than required, probably, and had a lot of fresh thyme.  These took longer than a hour and I bumped the temp up to 400 or so before I got much in the way of  a color change.  I stirred them once and returned them to the oven.DSC_9088 (1600x1060)We ate some of them with angel hair pasta for lunch.  My basil has gone to seed but I did find a few bright green new leaves that looked tender.  The portion of the tomatoes I used for the dish had a tablespoon or two of butter stirred in.  Pretty good stuff, not sure what to do with the rest of the tomatoes, I picked enough to fill that pan three times, the last batch is in the oven as I write this.

Tidbits

DSC_4847 (1600x1060)Lots of praying mantises today.  This one had a hold on a hummingbird before Mrs J, hearing a small commotion in the bush, reached in to rescue it.  She said she thought it was hung in a spiderweb at first and only saw the mantis when the bird’s foot didn’t come clear.DSC_4857 (1600x1060)This fellow is in the coleus but isn’t the same one from the other day.  That one had green eyes.  I’m not sure if mantises can change colors, a quick search found answers all over the map.  Some said yes, some no, and a few were firmly in the sometimes camp.DSC_4855 (1600x1060)I’m pretty sure this one is the same one from before.  He is in a green coleus right next to the vari-colored one, both of them in pots Mrs J has set in the shade of a small crabapple tree.DSC_4858 (1600x1060)My habaneros are loving this August heat.  I picked this bush once already and there are as many ripe now as before.  These are more than I will use.  Need any?DSC_8964 (1600x1060)We’re loving the big slicer tomatoes the garden is producing.  They are perfect for BLTs, or BELTs, as is the case here.DSC_4845 (1600x1060)Toby is still not sure I won’t do something to him he won’t like.  Ginger plays with him quite a bit and Toby doesn’t seem to mind, but let Homer come by and there will be trouble.  Toby has taken a serious dislike to that boy and we’ve had to separate them lest fur fly and the dogs become fearful for their own safety.DSC_8971 (1600x1060)I’ll close with a few more sammiches.  I fired up the panini press for this reuben and all the cheese ran out.  The pickle is a bread and butter spear.  Tasty!DSC_8968 (1600x1060)Last is a mushroom Swiss burger.  I sauteed some brown buttons in butter and olive oil, added beef stock with cornstarch for a thickener, and ladled them all over the cheese covered patty.  It’s a classic burger recipe, and for good reason.

Friday Recipe Exchange: What To Do With All Those Tomatoes

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It seems everyone but at my house has a garden full of tomatoes. That’s okay, I know where all the good farm stands are located. What to do with all those tomatoes then becomes the question. Tonight’s recipe exchange will give you a few ideas.

First, let’s get this out of the way, Bixby’s weekly update is hereBixby 8 19 14

Now for the recipes:

JeffreyW takes some of his harvest and Oven Dries Tomatoes, here and here.

You can then use those dried tomatoes in place of sun-dried tomatoes in this Roasted Green Beans, with Tomatoes and Feta, here.

I love soups and while the weather is still hot, Cold Cucumber and Tomato Soup is a perfect way to use some of the garden’s bounty, recipe here.

Tired of tomatoes? This week’s dinner menu of Seared Ginger Tuna with Mint-Papaya-Pineapple Salsa has not a hint of tomato.

What’s on your menu this weekend? Anything good cookin’ in your kitchen?

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For tonight’s featured recipe, I’ve adapted JefferyW’s recipe for his sauteed cherry tomatoes and pasta, pictured above.

Pasta Tossed with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

  • 10 oz  favorite pasta, cook according to pkg directions, drain (don’t dry) and reserve water
  • 16 oz (or more) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup fresh basil, packed,  reserve a few leaves for garnish
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Fresh grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

Skillet

Heat oil in skillet, sauté onions until translucent, add minced garlic, cook for about another minute and then add tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes, add tomato paste and basil. Stir and let simmer additional 5 minutes, ladle in some pasta water if needed for the desired consistency. Toss with pasta and top with cheese before serving.

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Tidbits

DSC_8890 (1600x1060)Don’t try to do this at home!  We browsed around at the local Amish run store the other day and finally picked up a squeeze tube of pie filling after seeing them there every time we went.  They have several different flavors, we took home the cherry:DSC_8933 (1600x1060)There are little chips of fruit in there but nothing the size of a whole or even half cherry.  There are 2 lbs. of it in the tube, not sure what the volume is but I think it’s plenty for at least one 9″ pie.  We didn’t buy it for that, though, because the squeezable nature of it is perfect for fried pies.  Alas, we discovered that those prepared crusts from the store are just not very good for that.  They tasted good but they were so fragile they were impossible to hold without coming apart.  Looks like it’ll be back to Mrs J’s Famous Fried Pies crust recipe to use up the remainder.Screenshot (5) (1600x1060)Yay me!  Alas, the thrill of turning over another million views is tempered somewhat by a new method for counting that Flickr.com is using.  I’m not sure what the new scheme is but it has drawn much comment from the user community.DSC_8864 (1600x1060)Hard to beat a nice ribeye.  Grilled sweet corn is another one of those things that we’ve been doing that is relatively new for us.  Mostly we just boiled it.  I’ve always buttered and salted mine but I’ve been going with other seasonings lately.  Old Bay is very good on it, tonight I used some of Olde Thomson’s tex-mex blend of seasonings.DSC_4841 (1600x1060)Mrs J spotted this fellow on her Coleus, down in the shade of a crabapple tree.  I scrambled down there with the camera and got a few decent pictures.  Mantises are one of my favorite insects.  They don’t show much fear of the camera but you can make them pay some attention:DSC_4842 (1600x1060)

Kitchen Fun

DSC_8900 (1600x1060)While we were at the store yesterday looking for cake ingredients we went ahead and bought some ground beef for a couple of quick burgers.  Hard to beat burgers grilled over a flame.  There was a fair amount of beef leftover so we bounced a few ideas around.  Mrs J mentioned sloppy joes and that sounded pretty good.  I went to the patio to grab some sweet peppers to go into the dish and brought in a few.  As I was breaking them down I thought it a waste to let those cute little peppers go unstuffed.DSC_8914 (1600x1060)Before long I had them filled with a mix of taco seasoned beef and nacho cheese sauce and topped with shredded cheddar and Monterey jack.  They went into a 350 oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.DSC_8916 (1600x1060)We had settled on a Nacho centered meal by this time what with the ground beef seasonings and cheeses already to hand.  We needed another dish to round out the menu, Mrs J suggested making more of the black bean and corn salsa:DSC_8925 (1600x1060)We have cherry tomatoes ripe again so they went in, as did 3 ears of sweet corn with the kernels shaved off the cob.  There are several varieties of peppers chopped up in there, a few green onions, a can of rinsed black beans, salt, black pepper, and a dash of lime juice in with a rice vinegar dressing.  It’s pretty good.DSC_8921 (1600x1060)Everything came together nicely on a platter.  I piled the chips on a toaster oven tray and sprinkled them with a good handful of the shredded cheeses and then popped it into the toaster oven under the broiler to melt the cheeses.  The whole pile slid right onto the platter and then I really piled on the extras:  the taco seasoned beef, some of that corn salsa, sliced jalapenos, nacho cheese sauce, sour cream, guacamole, New Mexico green chili salsa, more green onions, and a good grind of dried chili seasonings.

Enjoy!DSC_8923 (1600x1060)

Freezing Bell Peppers

DSC_8866 (1600x1060)We had a couple of pepper bushes survive our neglect and produce some fruit so I took a few hours this morning to deal with them.  After removing the stems and seeds the food processor with a slicer blade made short work of them:DSC_8867 (1600x1060)We’ve always used zipper bags to freeze our produce but decided to try the vacuum seal gadget this time.  I think it’s a pretty good choice of methods but the truth of it will be when we pull a bag from the freezer to use in a recipe.DSC_8869 (1600x1060)I kept a few out for lunch:DSC_8872 (1600x1060)

Pizza Pr0n – Margherita

This year, the margherita pizza celebrates its 125th birthday. One of the world’s favourite foods was reputedly invented at a pizzeria nowadays known as Brandi (00 39 081 416 928;brandi.it) at Salita Sant Anna Di Palazzo 1-2 in the city’s Chiaia neighbourhood. In 1889, its pizzaiolo, Raffaele Esposito, and his wife, Maria Giovanna Brandi, were summoned to the nearby Capodimonte palace and asked to invent a pizza for the then-queen, Margherita.

(Via)DSC_8853 (1600x1060)I’m sure this crust is much too thick for a purist.  I started the dough yesterday with 2 cups of bread flour and then added water to equal 65% of the weight of those 2 cups.  I used a handy electronic kitchen scale to weigh the flour but I don’t remember now what that came to.  Anyway, multiplied that by .65 to get the weight of the water I wanted.  Add a scant 1/4 tsp of yeast and a teaspoon of sugar to the liquid, plus a tablespoon of olive oil and stir into the flour.   The dough was very wet so I only kneaded it a little and then plopped it into an oiled bowl and covered with plastic and a damp towel.  It was left overnight to rise.DSC_8854 (1600x1060)I punched the dough down this morning and returned it to the bowl to continue proofing.  Why the fuss with weighing the water and flour?

Hydration affects the process of bread building and the nature of the final result. Generally speaking, the more water in the dough, the more open the final bread’s crumb. Bread can also be classified according to three categories based on hydration: stiff, standard or rustic.

(Via)

DSC_8857 (1600x1060)I rolled the dough out on a floured board and transferred it to my rimmed pan for baking, brushed the top with garlic oil, and distributed the toppings.  This one got the traditional Margherita treatment with mozzarella and Roma tomatoes and went into a 500 oven until the crust and toppings got a nice color.  Add the basil after the pie comes out of the oven or it will burn to a crisp.DSC_8859 (1600x1060)I like ground red pepper on my slices, along with fresh grated black pepper and salt.  Drizzle more of the garlic oil over it and enjoy!

Tidbits

DSC_4791Rain was threatening the other day and the hummers were really stoking up.  I played around with placing strobes on the ground around the feeders to try to stop the motion of the bird’s wings.  I took a few shots but it started to rain so I gathered the strobes up and quit before I could thoroughly try different settings.  I posted this at high resolution, click on it and it’ll get really big.  I counted about 30 hummers in this shot.DSC_8841 (1600x1060)Made a pot of chili just for this picture.  Turned out to be pretty good chili, I simmered some dried chilis to make a mole and added that to a chorizo/ground beef mixture with a chopped onion and a ton of garlic.  I held off putting beans in, adding them later.DSC_8846 (1600x1060)I think there are beans in the chili on this hotdog we had later in the day.  It has minced jalapeno and red serrano peppers with onions and shredded cheeses.DSC_4801 (1600x1060)Ginger had lots of fun with his new toy.  I think every cat in the house took a turn with it, and Katie spent a few minutes chewing it.DSC_8836 (1600x1060)Mrs J put together a salad, I added the olives and the pickled garlic.  It has a vinaigrette dressing of rice vinegar and olive oil with the usual herbs and a bit of Dijon.DSC_8828 (1600x1060)The habanero bush on the patio was starting to look like the peppers were thick enough on it to break the branches down so I went ahead and gathered all the ripe ones.  I have most of these drying to be ground for pizzas and the like.  I learned last year not to breath the dust from the processing.DSC_4804 (1600x1060)We opened the front door and found this stick insect clinging to the glass of the storm door.  No idea why he was there, the location pretty much defeats the blending in strategy in avoiding predators.  We see these now and again but almost always when they are away from their normal habitat.  Makes me wish for a decent macro lens for my camera.

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