Blog Archives

Roasted Tomato Sauce

DSC_0666 (1600x1060)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.

Dinner Menu: Chicken Salad and Green Beans in Vinaigrette

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JeffreyW’s Green Bean Salad

You can prepare all of this a day ahead of time for an easy and tasty picnic. And if it’s a party, they’re easy to double.

On the board tonight:

  1. Marinated Chicken Salad
  2. Sub Rolls
  3. Green Bean Salad
  4. Sliced Peaches

Chicken Salad

Chicken: (Marinate overnight)

  • ¼ cup dill juice
  • 3 tbsp Dijon or stone ground mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts

Mix together ingredients and marinate overnight. Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade. Grill or broil chicken and cool completely, then cut into small cubes or run through a food processor.

Salad:

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped dill pickles
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded & chopped
  • ¼ cup salad dressing or mayonnaise (more as needed)
  • 2 tsp Dijon or stone ground mustard

bowl

In bowl, mix cubed chicken with ingredients, blending well. Serve on sub rolls.  Serves 6 easily

JeffreyW’s Green Bean Salad (pictured above) – recipe here.

Shopping List:

  • Sub rolls (I like the miniature ones myself)
  • 1 lb fresh green beans, cherry tomatoes
  • white wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • Dill pickles
  • Dijon or stone ground mustard
  • Garlic paste
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 jalapeño
  • Salt & pepper
  • Peaches

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Just a Little Salsa Flavor

Photo by JeffreyW

Photo by JeffreyW

I have lost my cooking mojo. I have a stash this <————> big of recipes I want to try and share with you, but every time I look at my kitchen I go,“meh”. So next week I’m going to begin blogging in a bit of a different way and hope it brings back enough creativity to overcome my kitchen ennui. I hope you’ll check in and see how it’s going. There will probably be plenty of notes on Bixby antics. He’s become quite the clown. Spoiler alert, he has a girlfriend.

Until I can rediscover my kitchen magic, here are some recipes from 2012 that take advantage of garden bounty:

I am not a fan of canning. When I am overrun by tomatoes, I lean more towards freezing bags of pureed cooked tomatoes to use in sauces and soups later on. I also love to make a batch of salsa each week when the produce is fresh. Since I was faced with an abundance of tomatoes this week, I felt it was time for some salsa.

I have a Vita-Mix, which means if I’m not paying attention, salsa quickly goes from chunky salsa to picante sauce in the blink of an eye. Tonight my first batch went to full juice before I realized what I was doing. I’ll pulse my next batch and pay closer attention. Not sure what I’m going to do with the juice – but it sure tastes good.

Tonight’s recipes are all about tomatoes and what to do with the bounty from the garden or farm stand. I bet everyone has a favorite salsa recipe, I like mine fresh and simple. JeffreyW has a good salsa recipe and a nice Salsa Verde in case you’re tired of tomatoes, recipe here. He also makes and cans batches of his Awesome Sauce™, recipe here.

I love tomato season – sliced on a plate, grilled with olive oil, pasta caprese salad (recipe here), or just going out to the garden and eating the grape tomatoes right off the vine.

Are tomatoes a summer favorite? What’s your favorite way to prepare them? Anyone (besides JeffreyW) canning? And I know you have some salsa recipes to share…

Featured tonight, salsa recipes:

TaMara Fresh Salsa

  • 4 tomatoes, quartered
  • 6 green onions
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ to 1 bunch cilantro, remove stems
  • 2 to 4 jalapenos*, remove stems
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • dash of limejuice if desired

blender or food processor

In blender or food processor, add all ingredients and coarsely chop until blended well**.  If you can make a day ahead, it gets even better.  Seal in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week.

**If you prefer a chunkier style salsa, you’d be better off chopping vegetables by hand.

JeffreyW’s  Salsa:

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(Oh, you wanted his recipe…)

Couple of the jalapenos, a smallish onion or two, those green peppers, and most of the tomatoes.  Added a couple of dried ancho peppers all snipped small, a dash of chili powder, a few garlic cloves, a good squirt of lime juice, a bit of salt and fresh ground black pepper

(I think this is why I write the recipes and he takes the photos – both of us working to our strengths)

That’s if for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara

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Quick Tip: Freezing Fresh from the Garden

 

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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?

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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 heregreen 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….

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Tidbits

Buffalo Leg QuartersJeffreyW uses the Tidbits title when he puts together a lot of different items in one post, so I thought I would co-opt it for this eclectic post.

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? Cucumber Salsa 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

Dressing

  • 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

 

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Fun with Food: Slow-cooker Spinach Lasagna

Slow-Cooker Lasagna 2

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.

 

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Stuffed Green Peppers

 

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Stuffing for peppers – Photo by JeffreyW

A friend asked me for my recipe for Stuffed Green Peppers. I have a couple of recipes (here and here) and JeffreyW has done several (here and here), but I didn’t have just a simple, traditional recipe on the blog. So here it is. 

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

  • 6 large bell peppers
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    Photo by JeffreyW

  • 1 1/2 lb lean ground beef (or half beef, half spicy sausage)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 – 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup rice, uncooked
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water (or tomato sauce)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, mozzarella or parmesan, your choice)

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.

Cut off the top from the peppers (about the top 1/4 inch),  remove seeds and membranes.  

Add peppers to boiling water, remove from heat and let soak 5 minutes.  

Remove stem and then chop pepper tops.  

Brown beef with chopped peppers and onions in skillet.  

Remove whole peppers from water and turn upside down on a paper towel to dry.  

Add tomatoes, spices, rice and water to hamburger mixture, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover until rice is tender (about 15 minutes)  Stir in 1/4 cup cheese and fill whole peppers.

Place in a lightly oiled 8×8 baking dish and top with remaining cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees until cheese if bubbly and golden.

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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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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!

Friday Recipe Exchange: Garden Harvest

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We are raiding JeffreyW’s garden this week. He’s been busy in the garden this summer and coming up with some terrific meals, so I thought it would be the perfect topic for tonight’s recipe exchange.

Let’s start with his Stuffed Anaheim Peppers, pictured above and recipe here

He  made another batch of  Homemade Sauerkraut, instructions here.

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Got tomatoes? JeffreyW does and he’s making me jealous.

Fresh Salsas for those tomatoes, here and here

And this photo of one of JeffreyW’s homemade pizzas with his fresh cherry tomatoes will make your mouth water.

Too Hot to Cook?  I have slow-cooker Polynesian Ribs and complete dinner menu here.

What’s your recipe for fun this weekend? Cooking anything special? Share your harvest recipes (or any other recipes) in the comments. Would love to hear if you’re canning or freezing your summer bounty.

There are two featured recipes tonight, both taking advantage of fresh from the garden veggies. They are simple and quick to make, so you can get back outside to take advantage of the quickly diminishing summer days.

Pasta w/Fresh Basil

  • 10 oz bow-tie pasta
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch basil (1 loose cup)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan

saucepan

Cook pasta in saucepan according to package directions.  Drain well.  In saucepan, heat oil, basil, tomatoes and sauté for 1 minute, add pasta and toss with cheese.  Serve immediately.

Collard Greens w/ Bacon

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch collard greens (or spinach)
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • salt & pepper to taste

skillet, saucepan, steamer

Wash collard greens. In skillet, cook bacon till crisp, remove, cool and crumble. In bacon drippings, sauté onions, remove. In saucepan, place steamer and enough water to come to the bottom of the steamer, add greens and steam until tender. Mix honey & vinegar, and a little of the bacon drippings if you like. Toss all ingredients together and serve.

If you’d like to see how I’m going to be spending my final weeks of summer, click here. That’s all for this week’s exchange, next Friday we’ll take advantage of the abundant peaches from Palisades, Colorado. – TaMara

 

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