Blog Archives

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….



 

Bread and Jelly

I’ll post recipes for these in a bit. But I finally downloaded the photos. The jelly turned out great and it was very easy to make, well after all the fruit prep. The bread is four easy ingredients and very little kneading.

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Spice, Spice, Baby

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It was 47 degrees when I woke up this morning. I should have been suspicious when I was surrounded by furry bodies, snuggled up trying to stay warm. Who needs a down comforter?

Fall is rushing toward me, but I am not ready for pumpkin spice anything yet. In fact, I’m using up the pumpkin I have today to make puppy treats – these to be specific.

I have made more salsa, two batches of jelly and my favorite bread dough is resting in the refrigerator, waiting for me to form it into loaves. I’m still waiting for the bulk of the tomatillos to ripen so I can make a big batch of salsa verde.

I will post photos and recipes for jelly and bread later (today with luck), but first I have to go start cleaning the garage. The house is pretty much done, except I need to reorganize my office filing system…but that’s for a rainy day. And since today is scheduled to be almost in the 90s, garden and garage have priority.

The poor garage – it has a nice shelving system, yet shelves are all empty because everything destined for the garage landed in a pile to be dealt with later. Later has arrived. Time to clean, sort and shelve.

Be back soon with garden pix and yummy stuff…

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This Week In Photos

Evening Harvest

Last night’s harvest. I processed the batch in the blue colander today. I’ll do the rest tomorrow and start the jelly. I should have plenty.  I think I’ll give away the rest of the harvest.

Green door

No recipe exchange this week. Been very busy. Today I bought a door. I love our local salvage yard, got a great deal. I may be sacrificing a bit of energy efficiency with the window, but the living room needed the light. It is an upgrade from the plain wood door to insulated steel, so there is that. I need to touch it up a bit and then paint it before it’s installed.

The animals are settling in. Jake is back to his favorite spot:

Don't touch my bunny

Zander is always up for a belly rub:

Belly rubs

And looking for a game of laser light:

Who's a good kitty

He and Bixby play it together and I need to get video, but it’s tough to capture the action. Speaking of the Beast:

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He happily has his own couch (for now). We’ll see what happens when I find the new sectional. But for now, he’s comfy. LOL

The yard is coming along. I had a surprise gladiola hiding in the chard that made a smashing debut yesterday:

Glad for Glads

The window box outside my office that has been host to butterflies, bees and a hummingbird:

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That’s it for tonight. I hope you have a great holiday weekend.  – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Pears and Grilling

Pears Pecorino Walnuts

Sometime contributor Michael Fallai shares a lot of terrific recipes on Facebook. The only hitch is they are often in Italian. Tonight’s featured recipe was one of those. If you ever want a laugh, let Google translate a recipe for you…and don’t let dissolve cheese in a water bath, or let your wine evaporate on flame lively intimidate you.

Perusing the weekly ads, I pulled together a few recipes based on what was on sale this week and headed out to the grill.

First up, Curried Turkey Burgers, recipe here. Great served on fresh pita and grill some fresh eggplant from the garden.

Collard greens were everywhere at the farmer’s market last weekend, so Collard Greens with Bacon seems timely, click here.

The dinner menu took advantage of the abundance of pears right now, Grilled Salmon in Dill Sauce with Pear Raspberry Salad. Click here for recipes and full menu.

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JeffreyW and Mrs. J made some delicious looking Cream Horns (and to this Italian girl, seems the only difference between these and Cannoli is the filling). Purty pictures and directions can be found here.

What’s on your menu this last weekend of August? What garden fresh items are you enjoying right now? What are you grilling up?

Tonight’s featured recipe (pictured at top) became a poignant reminder of the earthquake in Italy. I had pulled it off the Italy site, translated it and put the ingredients on my shopping list just days before it hit.

Here is my version:

Pasta with Pears, Pecorino and Walnuts

  • 10 oz linguine pasta
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large pears, very ripe, cored and cubed
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano (plus extra for garnish)
  • 4 oz cream cheese or Mascarpone, cut into small cubes
  • dash of white wine (opt)
  • salt and pepper to taste

skillet, large pot

Bring water to boil in large pot, add salt and pasta and cook to al dente.  Drain but do not rinse and add back to pot, off heat.

While pasta is cooking, heat skillet on medium heat, add walnuts. Stir constantly until lightly toasted, remove and set aside.

Add butter to skillet and melt before adding pears. Stir gently until well coated with butter. Cook until softened, gently stirring occasionally (you don’t want to break up the pears).

Add both cheeses and stir in completely. Let simmer on medium heat until lightly boiling. Add wine and let simmer away (about 5 minutes). Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine pasta, pear mixture and walnuts in large pot and mix well. Serve with extra Pecorino for garnish.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, enjoy fading days of August – TaMara



 

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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Friday Recipe Exchange: Convection Roasted Chicken

Dinner is Served

After asking for and receiving some excellent advice on how to use my new convection oven, I decided to jump in and test it out. Roasting a chicken seemed like the most logical choice. If I ruined it, I could turn it into chicken salad. Sonoma Chicken Salad to be exact, found here.

This time of year, recipes seem superfluous – farm fresh corn, zucchini from my garden and sliced tomatoes need little embellishment. But I do have Tomato-Pasta Salad, here, that changes up the usual flavors.

For dessert, those plums needed to be used, so I went with a Plum Crumble (or as my cousin christened it, Plumble), recipe here. I used the convection feature,  which helped the crisp brown evenly. Bonus Bixby inspecting the plums here.

I don’t have any recipes from JeffreyW this week, but that could because this guy is keeping him busy:

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That’s the most adorable, Gabe, getting himself into a bit of trouble. I am looking forward to seeing how JeffreyW’s figs turn out, hopefully abundant enough for homemade fig newtons. But if not, just fresh off the tree. I love figs! Photos of his fig progression are here.

What’s on your menu this weekend as summer winds down? My grapes are starting to ripen, and of course I’m overrun with plums, so does anyone have some good plum or concord grape recipes they want to share? What else is cookin’ tonight?

Chicken's Done

Tonight’s featured recipe is pretty simple, since what I wanted was to test out how the convection oven treated my ingredients. I started with a local chicken, zucchini from my garden, potatoes from my dad’s garden and local corn.

I mixed together 2 tbsps of butter with dried, crushed rosemary and basil, along with crushed garlic and rubbed it under and over the skin of the chicken. I then rubbed more of the herbs and garlic inside  the cavity.

I put the chicken and the sliced potatoes into the roasting pan. I roasted them at 425 degrees, until the breast meat registered at 165 degrees and the thighs at 170 degrees. The high temperature, combined with the convection created a crisp skin that quickly sealed in the juices. Total cooking time was one hour for a five pound bird.

Convection Oven Roasting

I added the sliced zucchini about 15 minutes before the chicken was about to come out of the oven, so everything finished up nicely. The corn was microwaved for two minutes an ear (for a total of six minutes) with the husks on. If I had been more confident with my oven skills, I would have popped the ears into the oven just a bit before the zucchini and roasted them in the husks.

I am over the moon with what the convection feature can do – the potatoes were perfectly roasted, the chicken crisp and moist, the zucchini tender. The flavors were great and the herbs really permeated the meat.

That’s it for this week. I’m sitting here watching the welcome rainstorm drench my very thirsty yard, while contemplating my long list of things to do this weekend. Have a great weekend! – TaMara



 

July 4th: Pasta Salads

summer pasta salad

JeffreyW gives us a delicious example above

I am going to a quick 4th of July party on Monday – I still have to work, and pack. I’ll probably be working the entire holiday weekend so I can take off the week after I move.

My friend and I were talking menu items and pasta salad made our list. So I thought I’d put up a few salad recipes for the holiday.

My favorite is Chipotle Macaroni Salad and can be found here.

Greek Pasta Salad adds a fresh take on the traditional pasta dish. Recipe is here.

Tangy Pasta Salad incorporates lots of fresh vegetables. For complete dinner menu, recipes and shopping list, click here.

Pasta Salad final

And finally, this one is just as it says, quick and easy, and very tasty.

Quick and Easy Macaroni Salad

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup creamy Italian dressing (I like Newman’s Own)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • pepper

Blend together well and refrigerate until ready to mix in.

Salad:

  • 16 oz box favorite pasta
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp celery seeds
  • 1 tsp crushed dried basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz shredded carrots
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 8 oz cubed mild cheese (I used a marbled colby/jack)

Bring water to a boil, add 1 tsp salt and pasta. Cook until al dente (firm to tooth). Immediately drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Do not drain well, allow macaroni to stay wet, remove to bowl. Immediately add garlic, spices, celery seed, and let sit for 5 minutes. As the pasta absorbs the remaining water, it absorbs all the flavors. Next stir in carrots, celery, cheese and tomatoes. Save tossing with the dressing until 5-10 minutes before serving. This keeps the pasta from absorbing all of it and becoming mushy and flavorless, but still gives it enough time to meld the flavors together.

Next up – what I decided to bring to the party….stay tuned….

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Grilling Up a Storm

Bixby is 2 snap

Bixby turned two on Thursday and I felt that justified a Bixby Diaries post. So for the pet lovers, you’ll find lots of new and old photos, plus video of the Beast here. For the rest of you, it’s a grilling themed recipe exchange.

First up, Grilled Chicken and Papaya, recipe here. I noticed in the stores that mangoes were plentiful, and I can’t imagine why you couldn’t substitute – I would add a dash of lime to it all with mangoes.

Speaking of mangoes and papayas, how about Grilled Fish with Mango and Papaya Salsa, recipe here.

A couple of nice sides to round things out. But don’t think you need a recipe, fresh veggies from the garden, tossed in olive oil and grilled in a grilling basket can’t be beat.

Grilled Vegetable Salad, click here, can be a meal in itself or a hearty side.

Greek Grilled Potatoes, recipe here, are a nice, tangy change from regular potato packets.

What’s on the menu this weekend? Anything special planned for Father’s Day? What’s your favorite food to take out of the kitchen and make on the grill?

Flank Pinwheel Prep Final

Tonight, I combined two favorite recipes. I love the pinwheels because they are so showy (and tasty). I thought it would be a great recipe for Father’s Day weekend. Then I ran across my spicy sauce and thought, yum, that would work. If you don’t want spicy, here is the original Pinwheel Recipe. And if you don’t want pinwheels, here is the original Spicy Grilled Flank Steak recipe. I got you covered.

Grilled Spicy Flank Steak Pinwheels

Sauce:

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  • 1 tbsp chili garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup orange juice

Pinwheels:

  • 1 lb flank steak
  • 8 oz sliced provolone cheese
  • 1 bunch washed and dried spinach leaves
  • 8 wooden skewers
  • olive oil

ziplock bag,

You can ask the butcher to butterfly your flank steak, which  is what I did. But it’s fairly easy to butterfly. You want the grain running up and down in front of you and then you’ll slice it in half, NOT slicing all the way through. When you’re done you’ll lay it open, flat, basically making a larger, thinner steak.

Image from Serious Eats

Once you have it laid out flat in front of you with the grain running left to right, you’ll want to tenderize it, pounding it thin.

Keeping it flat, place into a ziplock bag,  add marinade and coat completely on both sides. Marinate flat in refrigerator 1 hour. Remove from marinade and assemble.

Layer the spinach over the meat. You want it to be several leaves thick, because it will reduce as it cooks.

Next layer the provolone cheese slices, two to three slices thick, over the meat.

Now it’s time to roll.  Roll tightly in the direction of the grain. Add a skewer every 2 inches and then slice between the skewers, so you have 2-inch thick pinwheels.

Heat grill and oil grates well – alternately you can cook in a cast iron skillet (heat 1/2 to 1 tbsp of oil in it) on the grill. If using a gas grill – heat one side to high for searing, turn the other side to about medium to finish cooking. For coals – place coals toward center of the grill, leaving the edges cool for finishing cooking.

Add pinwheels to the grill, flat side down. After a minute, using the skewer (you may also need a metal spatula to get all the cheesy goodness) flip over, sear additional minute.  The usual method of waiting until the meat moves easily to flip will not work with this because the cheese is sticky. So just do one minute each side, it will be fine.

After the second side is done, move steaks off of high heat to the cooler grates  and let the steak finish for about 10 to 15 minutes for medium rare. These are thin and don’t need a lot of cooking time and you don’t want the cheese to burn.

Remove to a plate, cover with foil and let rest 10 minutes, so the cheese isn’t molten lava.

My steak made 4 large pinwheels.

That’s it for this week. I don’t know how many recipe exchanges I’ll have in me while I’m packing, but stay tuned. Have a great weekend! – TaMara



 

Grilled Vegetable Salad

This works well as a side or a nice, fresh main course.

Grilled Vegetable Salad

  • 1 large red onion, quartered
  • 4 red potatoes, quartered
  • 8 oz baby carrots
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp rosemary, crushed
  • 1 tsp sage, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 8 oz bag spinach leaves or spring greens
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp melted butter

serving bowl, large bowl, grilling basket or foil

Mix oil and spices, toss with onion, potatoes and carrots in a large bowl, until well coated. Place in a grilling basket or wrap in foil and grill for 20 minutes, stirring or turning frequently.  Mix together lemon & butter.  In serving bowl, add greens, grilled vegetables and toss with lemon butter

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