Bustling. Things have been bustling. House hunting has heated up. Looked at two last week, one was a 110 years old. I was really drawn to it, but in the end, despite it being a solid, beautifully built home, there were too many check marks in the cons column. So the search continues.
A quick trip to visit family gave Bixby four days of fun and just a bit of overwhelm, which I’ll detail more in a dedicated Bixby post later in the week. Since we’ve been home, he’s been a total…brat. Somehow all our training has gone out the window.
My brother sent me home with a trunk full of fresh vegetables. But do you know what happens to very ripe tomatoes as you climb from sea level to 5280 feet? Yup, they burst. I was able to salvage one for slicing, but the rest I turned into Fresh Salsa tonight. Which was a good thing, since I’m already 3/4 of the way through the jar he sent home with me.
I was a little disappointed because I was hoping to use these beautiful tomatoes to make this:
Doesn’t that look amazing? Basically a Caprese Sandwich. Mouth watering just looking at it. I may have to get some fresh mozzarella tomorrow and make a caprese salad.
Before I left on my trip, I filled my car with as many fresh Palisade peaches as I could fit around Great Dane stuff and my stuff. Before I left, my mom said she was going to use the few that were left to make a peach cobbler. I missed out on that, but yum. I’m sure it was delicious. Recipe below:
- 4 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 egg
- 16 oz fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
- 1 tbsp sugar
8X8 baking dish, bowl
In 350° oven, melt butter in baking dish. In bowl, sift together flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder & salt. Add milk & egg, whisk to form a smooth batter. Pour into baking dish (don’t stir butter in). Scatter fruit evenly over the top of the batter and sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until fruit bubbles and batter is golden brown.
I’m hoping for a quieter week this week, to catch up on a few things and hopefully see a few more houses. Dinner menu and Bixby Diary later in the week. Until then…..
I’ve been on a fruit salad kick. Lots of fresh fruit at the market this time of year. Grapes are a mainstay, I use both red and green grapes and I like to cut them in half unless they are really tiny. Seedless grapes are easier but I have spent a lot of time scraping seeds away when those aren’t available. Also in this one are pears, peaches, kiwis, pineapple, oranges, and bananas.
Kitteh! Here’s a 3 month old male. Mrs J says they named him Diti but she will not swear to the spelling. D. T.? DeeTee? Ditty?Mmm… cheeseburger. This one has Swiss cheese and a pile of pickled peppers.More of those roasted rosemary Parmesan potatoes. These are Yukon Golds and they are plated with sesame green beans and a piece of roasted chicken.Moar Kitteh! This is Kaitlyn, an 8 week old female with interesting coloration, a tabby/calico look.That’s Kaitlyn there – right up against the blue watchband on this kitten house staffer. They call that staffer “the cat whisperer” because she can really get a feral cat calmed down and purring.Country ribs and fries. I have my best luck with these pork “logs” when I braise them, covered, in a low oven, say 225 to 250. I use broth as the braising liquid, adding bbq sauce at the end and uncovering them to help reduce the sauce. These were finished on the outside grill but they can be done under a broiler – watch them close so they don’t char.Here’s another cheeseburger, this one is garnished with some of those refrigerator pickles. On the side is one of my favorite summer salads of tomatoes and cucumbers with onions in a vinaigrette. It’s better the next day but isn’t bad when freshly made like this one.
I look forward to making this dish every year when the little tomatoes come in strong. We have grape tomatoes this year instead of the cherry variety but they are much the same thing. I saw this recipe where the tomatoes were roasted in the oven before they were mixed with the usual herbs and garlic and went with that method today. I think it worked very well.
It’s the time of year again when things begin to ripen faster than you can eat them, but there are still not enough to think about canning or cooking down and freezing. So what to do?
I had a bunch of cilantro and two tomatoes which were rushing to ruin and decided I needed to do something so I didn’t end up composting them. You can do this with any leafy herb, such as the basil, parsley, cilantro and veggies such as tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini.
I added the tomatoes and cilantro into my blender, covered with water and blended together well. I froze them in 8 oz portions, as that is the amount I would use in soup or sauce. Ice cube trays are an option, too, but that size is better for when you’re freezing intense herbs, like basil, by itself, where you would only use a tablespoon or so in a recipe.
I also zest all my oranges, lemons and limes and freeze them in a thin and flat layer in ziplock bags. Then I break off whatever amount called for in a recipe.
Herbs can also be packed in oil (click here) as JeffreyW did with his basil pictured above and tomatoes can be flash frozen whole, as JeffreyW did with the batch pictured at the top and detailed here, green and red peppers can be seeded and cut up into large pieces and frozen in the same manner.
There are many more ways to preserve fresh from the garden produce and I’ll try and remember to document as I go along this summer. Until then….
It’s been a busy week of cooking, surprisingly. When stressed, I retreat to the kitchen and even in its unwelcoming state, there was solace there this week. Bixby turned one on Tuesday, I baked up some more dog biscuits for him and his best play-buddies. You can see his birthday photos here.
Then I was at the store and found chicken leg quarters on sale and sitting right next to them, my favorite bottle of wing sauce, so I made some Buffalo Leg Quarters, pictured above and recipe here. They were really good and much easier than making wings.
JeffreyW was busy in the kitchen, too and his Shrimp Mornay with Broccoli from earlier in the week looked delicious. Photos and recipe here.
What’s been cooking in your kitchen this week? Is it time to give up on indoor cooking and move it all out to the backyard? What’s up for Father’s day? I had tonight’s featured recipe tucked away for the day I could find decent tomatoes. That day was today. And if you want other cucumber salad ideas, click here for a bunch of them.
Crisp Cucumber Salsa
- 1 large chopped cucumber – I used an English cucumber so I didn’t have to peel or seed it.
- 2 small chopped tomatoes
- 3 green onions, chopped, greens included
- 2 tbsp minced fresh Italian parsley
- 1 jalepeno pepper, chopped (seeded if you want to lower the heat)
- 4-1/2 tsp minced fresh cilantro
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1-1/2 tsp lime juice
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- dash of cayenne pepper (opt)
- 1/4 tsp seasoned salt
- Tortilla chips
- Small tortillas, cut into eighths
small bowl, serving bowl
In a serving bowl, combine the top seven ingredients. In small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and mix well. Pour dressing over cucumber mixture and toss gently to coat.
Let the flavors blend for about thirty minutes. Serve at room temperature or ice cold with chips and tortillas.
That’s it for this week. I hope everyone has a lovely Father’s Day. – TaMara
This week I’m having fun with unusual recipes in unusual gadgets. Here’s one from December 2012:
This is a great take on spinach lasagna, using a slow-cooker. This entire dish completely surprised me. I was at work, one day, in our morning meeting – which was actually an excuse for the guys to wow me with their cooking ideas – when Vern told me about the slow-cooker lasagna he’d made the night before. I was skeptical. Lasagna in a slow-cooker sounded like it would have the consistency of canned ravioli. But he insisted it was really good. So I set out to see for myself. I have to say, he wasn’t wrong. It had a great flavor, the texture was very similar to having cooked it in an oven and the top was nicely browned and the cheese perfectly gooey. The only caveat is that it cooks in about 4 hours, so you can’t put it together in the morning and have it ready when you get home at the end of the work day. It would be burned to a crisp, even on low.
So, here is tonight’s featured recipe, my version of slow-cooker lasagna:
Slow-Cooker Spinach Lasagna
- 1 lb lean ground beef (opt, you can skip to keep this vegetarian)
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 tsp crushed garlic
- 1 carrot shredded (this cuts the acidity of the sauce, adds a touch of sweetness)
- 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
- 28 oz canned tomato sauce
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
- 2 tsp of dried basil, crushed
- 12 ounces ricotta cheese (you can sub in cottage cheese if desired)
- 1 egg
- 2 cups fresh spinach, washed and rough chopped
- 16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 12 ounces lasagna noodles, uncooked (I used brown rice pasta to keep it gluten free)
Sauce: Brown ground beef, along with onion, garlic, carrots and green pepper in a saucepan (if you are omitting the beef, sauté vegetables in a tbsp of olive oil). Add tomato sauce, paste and spices. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and let simmer on low while preparing remaining ingredients.
Mix together ricotta cheese and egg, until well combined. Fold in spinach.
In the slow-cooker, spoon a layer of sauce onto the bottom, add a double layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (break to fit) and top with a portion of the ricotta mixture and then a portion of the mozzarella. Add sauce, then a single layer of noodles, ricotta and mozzarella and repeat layers until ingredients are all used up. (Because slow-cookers vary in size, I unfortunately can’t give you precise layering, as I can with the traditional lasagna. You’ll have to eye it. The good news is, it will all cook together and be just fine regardless).
Finish with sauce, mozzarella and then shredded Parmesan.
Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.