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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….



 

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Summer Grilling: Curried Turkey Burgers

I haven’t posted a lot of grilling recipes this summer because, well, let’s face it, I haven’t posted a lot of recipes! But this week I’ll post a few favorites. I’m still not doing much grilling because I’m saving up for a Traeger grill. Friends have one and I can’t imagine grilling or smokin’ on anything else since I’ve used it.

Until then, I’ll fry these up in my cast iron skillet. Great on the grill or in the skillet. And now that I’ve finally found a good source for tasty pita bread, a dinner favorite.

Serve with fresh corn on the cob and grilled eggplant (I have three Japanese eggplant almost ready to pick).

Curried Turkey Burgers

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp ground curry
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 4 pita breads

bowl

In bowl combine all ingredients except bread and mix well. Form 4 patties and grill, broil or fry to desired doneness. Serve in pita bread. Ground mustard and mayonnaise make good toppings or a little Greek salad dressing, along with lettuce & tomatoes.

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Dinner Menu: Pasta with Marinated Vegetables and Bruschetta

Photo courtesy FoodNetwork

Photo courtesy FoodNetwork

Just finished giving the Beast a bath. He hasn’t been in the tub all summer because he loves sprinklers, his pool and my neighbor hosing him down. The first thing I noticed: he’s grown. I’ll post pictures later.

Keeping in the vegetarian theme, here is this week’s dinner menu.

On the board:

  1. Pasta w/ Marinated Vegetables
  2. Tomato & Olive Oil Bruschetta
  3. Grapes

Pasta w/Marinated Vegetables

  • 10 oz Rotini pasta
  • 1 tray ice cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled & chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 10 to 12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 red onion, sliced in rings
  • 2 oz black olives
  • 2 oz grated parmesan

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 oz fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tsp minced oregano leaves
  • 1 to 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Saucepan, skillet, bowl, serving bowl

Mix together dressing and refrigerate. In saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions, drain, rinse in cold water and toss with ice cubes. Set aside and let cubes melt. While pasta is cooking, in skillet, heat oil and sauté eggplant, mushrooms and zucchini until tender. Remove and cool in refrigerator while preparing remaining vegetables. In bowl, toss all vegetables with dressing. Remove any un-melted ice cubes from pasta, and toss with vegetables, refrigerate 10 minutes. Add cheese.

Tomato & Olive Oil Bruschetta

  • 1 loaf Italian bread, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (more if needed)
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 4 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 3 green onions, chopped

baking sheet and bowl

Gently toss 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp crushed garlic, basil, tomatoes and green onions and set aside. Mix togethere 1 tbsp oil and 1 tsp garlic. Spread on sliced sides of bread. Broil bread until golden brown on top (watch carefully). Layer tomato mixture on each half of the bread and then slice each half into quarters or eighths.

Shopping List:

  • 10 oz Rotini pasta
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 4 mushrooms
  • 2 zucchini
  • 10 to 12 cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 loaf Italian bread
  • Large bunch of basil
  • Small bunch oregano
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 3 green onions
  • Grapes or any in season fruit

Also: crushed garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar

 

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Summer Dinner Menu: Fajita Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs

Chicken kabobs

I thought we’d send summer out with a bang and do a spicy grilled mix and some fruit cobbler. I am a summer worshiper and I mourn its passing. Let’s have a moment of silen…okay, done now. Bring on the fall foods! It was cool enough today that I was actually thinking of soup. Chicken Tortilla Soup and Sweet Pepper Potato Soup (recipe coming up soon).

On the board tonight:

  1. Fajita Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs
  2. Black Beans
  3. Rice
  4. Fruit Cobbler

Fajita Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp fajita seasoning

bowl

In bowl, mix together 1 tbsp oil, garlic, salt, pepper, & 1 tbsp fajita seasoning, add chicken and toss, coating chicken well.

Cut all vegetables into large chunks (about 8 pieces each):

  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp fajita seasoning
  • 1 cup fresh salsa

4 metal skewers and bowl

In bowl, combine vegetables with oil, vinegar, garlic, 1 tbsp fajita seasoning and toss gently to coat well. Assemble onto skewers with chicken, using tomato chunks as first and last item (keeps everything else in place).  Grill, turning frequently until chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

Black beans

To liven up black beans, add a dash of lime juice, some chopped cilantro and a bit of cayenne or chili powder.

Fruit Cobbler

  • 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 fruit (peaches, berries, apples or a combination, whatever is best available in your area)
  • 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.

Shopping List:

  • 12 to 16 oz can black beans
  • 1 cup dry rice
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • fajita seasoning
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 8 oz fresh salsa
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 oz milk
  • 1 egg
  • 16 oz fresh fruit (peaches, berries, apples or a combination, whatever is best available in your area)

Also: oil, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, baking powder



 

Thursday Night Menu: End of Summer Edition

Homer and his pretty red cast

September is Disaster preparedness month. Are you prepared? I used to be a Disaster Relief Coordinator, so I’m a little preachy on this subject. I’ve been in hurricanes, earthquakes, 3-day blizzards and spent many a stormy night in the basement during tornado warnings. I’ve helped more people than I can count after home fires. And one week it was a broken water main, leaving me scrambling to figure out how to get fresh water to us, three Great Danes, 2 cats and a duck. These are all things made a bit easier if you have some type of plan in place.

In other news, we have a new blog mascot, a kitten who has seen some hard times. His name is Homer and he now resides at the home of JeffW and Mrs. J in a pretty red cast and with a total look of trouble in his eyes. If you can look at the pictures without saying “aaaaahhhh” then you are made of stronger stuff than I am.

I thought we’d send summer out with a bang and do a spicy grilled mix and some fruit cobbler. I am a summer worshiper and I mourn its passing. Let’s have a moment of silen…okay, done now. Bring on the fall foods!

On the board tonight:

  1. Fajita Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs
  2. Black Beans
  3. Rice
  4. Fruit Cobbler

Fajita Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp fajita seasoning

bowl

In bowl, mix together 1 tbsp oil, garlic, salt, pepper, & 1 tbsp fajita seasoning, add chicken and toss, coating chicken well.

Cut all vegetables into large chunks (about 8 pieces each):

  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp fajita seasoning
  • 1 cup fresh salsa

4 metal skewers and bowl

In bowl, combine vegetables with oil, vinegar, garlic, 1 tbsp fajita seasoning and toss gently to coat well. Assemble onto skewers with chicken, using tomato chunks as first and last item (keeps everything else in place).  Grill, turning frequently until chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

Black beans

To liven up black beans, add a dash of lime juice, some chopped cilantro and a bit of cayenne or chili powder.

Fruit Cobbler

  • 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 fruit (peaches, berries, apples or a combination, whatever is best available in your area)
  • 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.

Shopping List:

  • 12 to 16 oz can black beans
  • 1 cup dry rice
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • fajita seasoning
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 8 oz fresh salsa
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 oz milk
  • 1 egg
  • 16 oz fresh fruit (peaches, berries, apples or a combination, whatever is best available in your area)

Also: oil, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, baking powder

Thursday Night Menu: What’s in Your Garden Edition

From JeffreyW's garden

Tonight is about taking advantage of what is plentiful in your garden or local farm stand. So take the listed vegetables as a guideline only and use whatever makes you happy. My tomatoes are slowly ripening, about one every other day. This is better than green everyday, so I am grateful for whatever I can harvest. There is already a chill in the air- though the holiday weekend is predicted to be in the 90’s (hurray!) – but that chill means I’ll start looking at those fall menus. Let me know if you have any fall menu requests.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pasta w/ Marinated Vegetables
  2. Tomato & Olive Oil Bruscetta
  3. Grapes

Pasta w/Marinated Vegetables

  • 10 oz Rotini pasta
  • 1 tray ice cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled & chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 10 to 12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 red onion, sliced in rings
  • 2 oz black olives
  • 2 oz grated parmesan

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 oz fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tsp minced oregano leaves
  • 1 to 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Saucepan, skillet, bowl, serving bowl

Mix together dressing and refrigerate. In saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions, drain, rinse in cold water and toss with ice cubes. Set aside and let cubes melt. While pasta is cooking, in skillet, heat oil and sauté eggplant, mushrooms and zucchini until tender. Remove and cool in refrigerator while preparing remaining vegetables. In bowl, toss all vegetables with dressing. Remove any un-melted ice cubes from pasta, and toss with vegetables, refrigerate 10 minutes. Add cheese.

Tomato & Olive Oil Bruscetta

  • 1 loaf Italian bread, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (more if needed)
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 4 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 3 green onions, chopped

baking sheet and bowl

Gently toss 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp crushed garlic, basil, tomatoes and green onions and set aside. Mix togethere 1 tbsp oil and 1 tsp garlic. Spread on sliced sides of bread. Broil bread until golden brown on top (watch carefully). Layer tomato mixture on each half of the bread and then slice each half into quarters or eighths.

Shopping List:

  • 10 oz Rotini pasta
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 4 mushrooms
  • 2 zucchini
  • 10 to 12 cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 loaf Italian bread
  • Large bunch of basil
  • Small bunch oregano
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 3 green onions
  • Grapes or any in season fruit

Also: crushed garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar,

End of Summer Grilling: Curried Turkey Burgers

Always looking for new flavors to grill and since I love good pita bread*, something that would go nicely with that.  Came up with this for a taste treat and a perfect way to use ground turkey since it can be bland if not well seasoned before grilling.  Serve with fresh corn on the cob and grilled eggplant.

Curried Turkey Burgers

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp ground curry
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 4 pita breads

bowl

In bowl combine all ingredients except bread and mix well. Form 4 patties and grill, broil or fry to desired doneness. Serve in pita bread. Ground mustard and mayonnaise make good toppings or a little Greek salad dressing, along with lettuce & tomatoes.

*and now that I’ve said that, a friend reminds me that it is difficult to find good pita bread around here.  So I may try my hand at making my own.  I’ve found a good recipe and if I can find time this week where it is not too blazing hot to turn the oven on at 450 degrees I may give it a shot.  Stay tuned….

Thursday Night Menu: Farm Stand Edition

Tonight’s menu is really in anticipation of fresh summer produce. We are not quite there yet, but you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the ingredients. While I lived in suburbia, there was a great farm stand a mile or so from my house. I passed it coming and going from work and errands. It was perfect for when I wanted something fresh for dinner that night. Farmers’ Markets are great, but nothing beats a farm stand you can shop at any day. I had in the back of my mind that since I moved, I needed to scout out a new one, but hadn’t given it a lot of thought or effort. And then came the lost wallet.

One of the guys I work with found a wallet, stuffed with cash, cards…you know basically someone’s entire financial life. A bit of investigation and he tracked her down. Come to find out she lives a few miles from me, so I was the logical person to return the wallet. I knew from the address it was going to be a beautiful location, and it was, farmland on the river with a breathtaking mountain view. Very nice family and even better, they operate a farm stand with organic produce. Kismet. You never know how you’ll find what you’re looking for.

And I must give a shout out to our wallet owner. Very kind, very appreciative, she handed me a wad of cash to give to my guy and then handed me a grocery card. I tried to refuse, because I really believed we were just doing the right thing. But she was a feisty 95lb woman in her 80’s that would brook no refusal and while I could have probably arm-wrestled her to the ground, it didn’t seem appropriate. I think I’m going to enjoy shopping their farm stand this summer.

On the board tonight:

  1. Creamy Chicken & Pasta
  2. Fresh Garden Medley
  3. Sliced Melon

Creamy Chicken & Pasta

  • 12 oz bow tie or other pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into large cubes
  • 1pkg fresh basil (usually about 2 oz)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 large tomato, chopped

large saucepan and deep skillet

Heat water and cook pasta according to package directions. In skillet, heat oil, add onions and sauté. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Reduce heat, add basil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove onions, chicken & basil, set aside. Add garlic, butter and flour, stirring constantly, then add milk . Stirring constantly, heat for 1 minute until it bubbles and is thickened, reduce heat, add parmesan, salt & pepper, stirring constantly until creamy.

Add tomato & chicken mixture to sauce and stir together. Let simmer on low for 5 minutes. Drain pasta well (you may even want to dab with a paper towel) and toss with chicken mixture. Serve immediately.

Fresh Garden Medley

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 small eggplant, thinly sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1 tsp dried basil (or 3 leaves fresh, minced)
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan (opt)

skillet

Heat oil in skillet, add onion and garlic, sauté until onion is golden. Add eggplant, stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add squash, tomato & spices, sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve w/parmesan if desired.

Shopping List:

  • 12 oz bow tie or other pasta
  • 6 green onions
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1pkg fresh basil (usually about 2 oz)
  • 1 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 small zucchini
  • melons

Also: olive oil, crushed garlic, butter, milk, flour, oregano, dried basil

Kitchen Garden

I’m going to repost some of the gardening posts from last year….

(From May 2009) So it’s time to get serious about gardening.  Here’s some things I suggest for a great summer vegetable garden.  This offers a variety of healthy eating all summer long and tomatoes and peppers to freeze or can for winter.

I prefer raised beds, here’s a plan for a 4×6 raised bed kitchen garden.  I prefer raised beds because it’s easier to navigate, keep down pests and keep moist.  On one end, you’ll want to have a trellis.   This will be where the peas, beans and cucumbers will go.  You’ll divide the garden into 1 sqare foot sections (use string to create a grid, remove after planting). In one square foot each, you’ll be able to plant several of each kind of plant.

4 pole (green) beans, 8 peas (mix up varieties),  2 cucumber plants and 1 summer squash.   Moving inward:  kale (2 ), collards (2), eggplant (1) and carrots (12-16).  Next row: radishes and onions (8 each), tomatillos (1), tomato (1), tomato (1).  Next row: tomato (1), leaf lettuce (16), spinach (9), tomato (1).  Last row:  pepper (1), pepper (1), pepper (1), tomato (1).

Notice the lettuce and spinach are shaded by the the tomato and pepper plants this will help them stay cooler during the hotter months.   Peppers, tomatillos, eggplant and tomatoes will need cages, I prefer the cone shaped ones.  Orientation is helpful – in this garden, the first row is better if it’s north or east, and the final row is south or west.

Next I’ll create an herb container garden.  Because what’s good cooking without fresh cilantro, basi and lemon thyme.  Until then….

Lamb Kabobs

JeffreyW has been making some tempting gyros.  I thought if that has put you in the mood for lamb, but you’re not quite ready to grind your own, this might satisfy your craving.

Lamb Kabobs

  • 1 lb lamb, boneless shoulder cut, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp oregano, crushed
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 green pepper, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 onion, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into 8-12 pieces
  • 4 large (11-12 inches) metal skewers

broiler pan or grill

Mix lemon juice, oil, salt, oregano, pepper in bowl or plastic bag and add lamb cubes. Let marinate overnight. Remove lamb and reserve marinade.

Alternate on skewers: pepper, lamb, onion & eggplant. Broil or grill for 5 minutes, turn and brush with marinade, cook additional 5 minutes, turn, marinate, cook another 5 minutes.