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Category Archives: Vegetarian

Garden Fresh: Jalapeno Relish and Easy Salsa

My garden was hit with both hail and an infestation of earwigs. I managed to get a small crop of tomatoes, jalapenos and potatoes despite the destruction. The ducks have been great at keeping the rest of the pests at bay, but earwigs are nocturnal, so they managed to escape the duck patrol.

My dad and youngest brother sent home cucumbers and jalapenos on my last trip, so I decided it was time to put everything to good use before they went bad on my counter.

First up, Easy Salsa, recipe here.

I love pickled jalapenos, so I wanted to pickle some this summer. I have had plenty, but I thought if I was going to do that, it wouldn’t hurt to have extra from my brother. Add my dad’s huge English cucumbers and I got a fresh, spicy combo that is terrific on everything, especially grilled hot dogs. Yum.

Pickled Jalapeno-Cucumber Relish

  • 10 large jalapenos
  • 1 large cucumber (or two medium)
  • 2 tsp fresh dill (opt)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, quartered
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar

jars, blender, saucepan

You can rough chop all the vegetables, since this will be run through either a food processor or blender. If you want to tone down the spice – remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapenos. I did not peel the cucumber because it was garden fresh.

I added just a touch of dill – because I thought the cucumbers would need it. It’s not overwhelming and it could easily be omitted.

In the saucepan combine water, vinegars, sugar and salt. Bring to a low boil

In the blender or food processor, add jalapenos, cucumbers, herbs and garlic and just enough water to cover. Pulse until all the ingredients are finely chopped. Add to boiling mixture, bring back to a boil, reduced heat and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool before adding to sterilized glass jars.

I did not can this recipe – jars will last about two weeks in the refrigerator. I froze several of the jars and they should last a good six months.

As a side note – those are grapes from my vines. I have one red vine and one concord vine. Last year they were barren, the year before they tasted like concord grapes, this year the vines are overflowing and taste sweet and are almost seedless. This fall I’m going to espalier them to create a screen and hopefully keep the dogs out of them. It’s been a challenge this year. Bixby loves to pick them off the vines and grapes are not good for dogs.



 

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Multi-Pot Electric Pressure Cooker: 4-Minute Potato Salad

Photo of yummy potato salad by JeffreyW, of course

At the last-minute yesterday, I decided we needed potato salad at our cookout. Luckily, electric pressure cooker to the rescue.  Four minutes cooking time, about 10 minutes prep. I left potatoes and eggs in the fridge to cool while we ran around. Added mayo, mustard, some dill pickle juice just before dinner and served with grilled hamburgers and corn. Yum.

Perfect Picnic Potato Salad

  • 6 large potatoes, peeled, cubed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • mayo and yellow mustard to taste – I used less than a cup of mayo and about 1/4 cup mustard – but I know some people like a lot more. I added a 1/4 cup of dill pickle juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add the steaming basket to the pressure cooker. Add cubed potatoes (and you don’t need to be too fancy with cutting the pieces – just relatively same size for uniform cooking). Place washed eggs on top of the potatoes. Close the unit, set to steam for 4 minutes. When finished, use the rapid release method to ensure eggs don’t over cook and potatoes stay firm.

Add eggs to a cold water ice bath. Remove potatoes and drain excess water. Add to large serving bowl.  Peel eggs, wash and cube. Add to potatoes. Let cool completely before mixing so as not to turn the potatoes into mush.

Once cooled, add remaining ingredients and fold until well mixed.  Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6 easily



 

Pasta with Spinach Cheese Marinara

Pasta photo by JeffreyW

Pasta w/Spinach Cheese Marinara Sauce:

  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, washed & sliced
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste*
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp thyme, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 oz bow-tie pasta (farfalle)

2 saucepans

Bring water for pasta to a boil in large saucepan, add pasta and cook according to directions to al dente.

Meanwhile, heat oil in the other saucepan; sauté onions, mushrooms & peppers until onions are golden.  Add remaining ingredients (except pasta) bring to a low boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to med-low, cover and let simmer until pasta is done cooking. As the pasta finishes up, add a ladle or two of pasta water to the sauce.

Drain pasta well and toss together with sauce.  Serve with additional Parmesan & Romano cheeses if desired.

*you can freeze the remainder in an ice-cube tray and store in a freezer bag.



 

Tired of Winter Cooking: Some Fresh Ideas

I’m so very tired of winter cooking. Stews, soups (ok, I’m never really tired of soup), roasted meats and veggies. Time to freshen things up.

But with what? The produce section is often disappointing with flavorless items that haven’t seen the light of day. But there are some bright spots and with those I can wave away the winter cooking blues.

First up: Peppers and onions.

This is the time of year when you can find a variety of sweet peppers in all kinds of colors at a pretty reasonable price. My recipes are usually fairly simple. Heat up olive oil, add thinly sliced onions and peppers, season with a dash of salt and pepper. Sauté until they soften and onion are golden. Remove from heat and now you can cook up any number of things: chicken marinated in lemon juice and pepper, thin beef strips marinated in teriyaki and ponzu sauce, pork medallions marinated in apple juice and a bit of apple cider vinegar. The ideas are endless. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, butter noodles, quinoa…

Or how about Fajitas? That recipe is here.

Next up: Fresh salads.

I found a nice jicama one day and realized I hadn’t made a batch of Jicama Slaw since last summer.  A big bowl of that in the refrigerator to munch on all week really lifted the flavor blahs. You can find the recipe here.

Two other summer favorites that are easy to make mid-winter: Potato Salads (recipes here) and Coleslaw (recipe here).

How about fruits?

Now is the time for Strawberries (recipes here and here)

Blood Oranges (recipes here)

 

And Grapes – one of my favorite grape recipes is Grapes and Sausagesrecipe here.

That should be enough help you get through a few more weeks of winter while dreaming of the fresh vegetables soon to come from gardens and farm stands.

There will be a puppeh update today or tomorrow. Until then…

Creamy Roasted Poblano Soup

Creamy Roasted Poblano Soup

  • 4-5 poblano peppers – roasted, peeled and seeded
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, rough chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water (I used water)
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • salt and pepper
  • limejuice
  • cilantro
  • shredded sharp cheddar or Crema Mexicana

This is so easy. I had frozen, roasted poblano chiles, so all I had to do was thaw, skin and seed them. But if you have fresh chiles, heat them under the broiler for 5 minutes (watch carefully and turn as needed) until the skins are blackened on all sides. Cool and then slip off the skins. Slice open and use the knife to remove seeds and ribs (usually just be scraping with the knife). Rough chop.

In a saucepan, heat butter and add chopped onions. Saute until they are translucent, add chopped garlic and heat through before adding the chiles. Stir for a moment until everything is coated in butter. Remove from heat and add to blender, along with water or stock. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Add back to saucepan, along with milk, and bring to a very low boil, stirring constantly, reduce heat to low. Add salt and pepper to taste and let simmer for 8-10 minutes. Just before serving add the juice of 1/2 lime (more to taste). Garnish each bowl with cilantro and cheese.

Serves 4

 

 

Fall Menus: Sept Week 2

This is a little late, but I suppose better late than never. I’ve been crazy with work and glued to hurricane coverage, as I have Florida family (and friends).

Since we are moving into cooler weather, I’m bringing the meals in from the grill and into the kitchen. Although we do have a Grilled Steak on Monday – it’s in a soy/wine marinade that I love because you can use an inexpensive cut of beef and still get a great steak out of it.

One of my favorite meals, Red Beans and Rice, heads up Wednesday’s menu. And Friday is a slow-cooker BBQ Beef on Kaiser Rolls. 

All the PDF menus can be found here: September Week 2 Menus

The color-coded weekly shopping list is here: September Week 2 Shopping List The color coding allows you to eliminate any ingredients you won’t need if you skip a recipe.

Tonight’s bonus recipe is Creole Vegetables and Black Beans, which can be found here.

If you any questions, hit the comments and I’ll try and get you an answer. Have a great week!



 

Vegetarian Meatballs in Fire Roasted Tomato-Basil Sauce

Most of the recipes I looked at used Italian Breadcrumbs. But I really feel these need fresh breadcrumbs, so I’ve included instructions for making your own. I didn’t season mine because I didn’t want them to overpower the delicate flavors of the cheeses. Fresh breadcrumbs absorb flavors and moisture more than packaged ones, so I thought it gave the whole meatball a better, lighter texture. I added a bit of  garlic powder (fresh garlic did not work with this, it was overpowering and a touch bitter), basil, oregano and fennel. The fennel really took it up a notch. I think next time I might add a bit of red pepper flake.

Spinach and Ricotta Vegetarian Meatballs

  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (instructions below)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese mix
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (not salt)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten

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  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese
  • Olive oil

Breadcrumbs: this took a full 1-lb loaf of day-old Italian or French bread. I bought it from the day-old rack for cheap. I tore it into small pieces, spread out on a baking sheet and dried it in a 200 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want them toasted or seasoned because I thought it would overpower the delicate flavors of these meatballs. Once they were dried, I ran them through the blender. I reserved 1/4 cup for rolling the balls in before cooking.

Meatballs: Mix together ricotta, grated cheeses, spinach and spices. Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup at a time. You want it to come together to form soft balls, but you don’t want it to be dry. Once you can form a soft ball with some structure, you don’t need to add more breadcrumbs.

Scoop up a heaping tablespoon (I used my cookie dough scoop) and roll the mixture into balls.

Mix together 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup grated cheeses in a bowl and roll each meatball in the mixture, coating on all sides.

You can bake or pan fry these. I chose to pan fry, it used a bit of oil, but it gave them a nice flavor. Baking them would be my option if I was doubling the recipe.

To fry: heat olive oil in a skillet on medium and add the meatballs, leaving enough space between them to easily turn them. They are soft, so it’s a delicate process. The good news is, if you really want them round (instead of kind of flattened) you can reshape them after they come out of the pan. Turn them until they are golden brown on all sides.

To bake: place them on a well oiled baking sheet or use parchment paper. Brush them with a bit of oil if desired. Leave space around each one so they brown evenly and bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. You can turn them halfway through if desired.

Fire Roasted Tomato and Basil Sauce

  • 28 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes or better yet, click here to make your own.
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh chopped)

Add ingredients in saucepan, bring to a low boil, reduce to low and let simmer while prepping meatballs.

Serve sauce and meatballs over your favorite pasta.



 

Christmas Eve Menu: Spinach Lasagna Dinner

Lasagna snap3

I’ll update the photo if I get a good one this Christmas Eve

Tossing around ideas for my Christmas Eve party and settled on lasagna this year. It will once again be gluten-free using specialty noodles. Excited to have our traditional party in the new house.

On the board:

  1. Spinach Lasagna
  2. Tossed Salad
  3. Garlic Bread*

This recipe takes about an hour to prepare and another hour to cook. It easily serves 6 – 8. I will make it a day ahead and refrigerate. It will need additional cooking time to bring center up to temperature.

Spinach Lasagna

Sauce:

  • 3-15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled & finely grated
  • pinch of sugar (reduces acidity of the tomatoes)
  • Optional: ½ lb ground beef and ½ spicy Italian sausage, browned

Saucepan

Add all ingredients to saucepan on medium-high, stirring constantly until it begins to boil lightly. Turn to low and let simmer while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Lasagna:

  • 1 pkg lasagna noodles (16 oz), cooked and placed in cool water until layering
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz package frozen spinach, thawed or 8 oz fresh, washed and dried
  • 1 egg
  • 12 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese

13×9 baking dish (I prefer glass), lightly oiled

To prepare: Mix ricotta, spinach and egg until well blended. Ladle a layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Cover in a single layer of noodles. Ladle sauce over noodles. Spoon ½ of the ricotta mixture evenly (if you place large dollops evenly like putting cookie dough on a baking sheet, fairly close together, it will spread as it cooks, no need to smooth it). Layer 1/3 of the mozzarella over the ricotta. Repeat: noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, noodles. On top of the last layer of noodles, add remaining sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, uncovered – I like to place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any spills as it bubbles. Place knife through the center, if it comes out heated through, remove and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. If it needs more cooking time, you can cover with foil to keep the cheese from burning and cook 10 more minutes. Let stand uncovered before serving.

Garlic Bread

*I’m going to purchase a gluten free loaf  (we have a great local bakery for that) and I’m also going to make this Slow Rise recipe.  Making the garlic bread is easy. I slice the loaves in half lengthwise, melt butter, add a healthy amount of crushed garlic and brush liberally on each loaf half. Then I top with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan.  Broil until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown. Slice and serve.

Tossed Salad

I try to change it up each year, and I don’t know how I’m going to do this time. Maybe spinach/raspberry or a veggie toss with romaine.

Next up: Dessert Menu



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Got Soup?

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Well it’s been a whirlwind of activity here and I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress with the house and garden. Lots of cooking going on for friends and family because I love working in my new kitchen. It hasn’t left a lot of time for blogging. But dinner is in the slow-cooker and I have a moment before it’s time to walk Bixby, so tonight there is a recipe exchange.

JeffreyW and I once again had a mind-meld moment and both made a batch of Beef and Barley Soup this week. His yummy photo is pictured above.  My recipe is here and JeffreyW’s recipe is here, accompanied by great photos.

Chuck roasts were on sale this week, so I stocked up. I love a good pot roast and have a few recipe variations. I have a recipe for a Tangy Pot Roast here.  For a more traditional take on a yummy Slow-Cooker Pot Roast  including a full menu and recipes, click here. My new favorite ingredient is a dash of good whisky to deepen the flavors.  One of the roasts will be cut up and frozen for soup or stew.

The garden is still producing an abundance of ripe tomatoes, so I made a batch of Tomato-Spinach Soup, recipe here. For a vegetarian version, just omit ground beef. I make it both ways depending on my mood. Serve with grilled cheese sandwich on Easy Slow Rise Crusty Bread, pictured below and recipe here.

bread-and-jam

Another batch of tomatoes, along with zucchini, green peppers and eggplant (all garden fresh) went into a fresh dinner for guests this week, Garden Fresh Pasta, recipe here.

What’s on the menu tonight? Any fun plans for this first weekend of October?

Turkey Bean Soup1

Tonight’s featured recipe is what we’re having as part of a get-together tomorrow night. It’s simple, hearty soup that we can put together earlier in the day for a quick dinner. Then we’ll be heading out to the local historical farm for Wildlife Night. There will be owls.

Cranberry beans are usually easy to find, but if not, substitute cannellini white kidney beans – you can use dry or canned.

Turkey Bean Soup

  • 1 lb smoked turkey sausage, diced (or ground turkey, browned)
  • 1 lb dried cranberry beans (soaked overnight, drained)cranberry-beans-close-up
  • 8 cups of water (or 6 cups water, 2 cups chicken broth)
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Slow-cooker

Add all ingredients to the slow-cooker and cook for 6 to 8 hours on low. Serve with fresh hot bread and salad for a complete dinner.

That’s it for this week. I’m heading out to buy paint…starting on the living room this weekend. Have a great weekend – TaMara



Turkey Bean Soup1

Garden Fresh Pasta Dinner

I had friends over on Sunday and by request, made a garden fresh entrée. The advantage with this type of dinner is, it is quick and easy to prepare while guests are there. We had pleasant conversation as I put it together, which from start to finish was less than 20 minutes.

I apologize in advance, I have no photos of the final dish because I was having such a good time I completely forgot to even get my camera out.

Garden Fresh Pasta

  • 4 tomatoes
  • about 4 basil leaves (or 1/2 tsp dry)

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  • 12 oz linguine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper (or red or orange as desired), chopped into large pieces
  • 2 zucchini, cubed
  • 1 large eggplant, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tomatoes (I used a variety from my garden and my friends’ garden), chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp dry)

saucepan, skillet, large pot

Blend 4 tomatoes and 4 basil leaves together until smooth and add to saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer while prepping the remainder of the dinner.

In large pot, cook pasta according to package directions, to al dente. Drain, but don’t rinse.

In skillet, heat 1 tbsp of oil, add onions. Saute for a minute and then add peppers. Stir occasionally until they are softened and onions are translucent. Add additional tbsp of oil, once heated, add garlic, zucchini and eggplant. Saute until tender. Finally, add tomatoes and basil, cook for one to two minutes and then add the tomato mixture from the saucepan. Stir together gently and bring to a low boil for about 1 minute. Serve over pasta.

I served it with grated Parmesan, tossed salad and fresh baked bread

Go wild and add whatever fall garden vegetables you have on hand….