Finally Harvesting From The Garden

Despite an early start to all my seedlings this spring, harvest is late this year. Finally pulling enough tomatoes to do something besides adding them to salads and making my favorite Cucumber Tomato Salad. And a handful of jalapenos were ready this morning.

Every year there must be salsa, and this year I added some dried Mexican Oregano to mimic our favorite restaurant’s salsa. It definitely took my usual recipe up a notch.

I’m still waiting for my tomatillos to be ready for a nice salsa verde.

Peaches have been perfect this year, so Peach Salsa and Peach Chutney are on the menu.

Fresh salsa on the right and pickled jalapenos on the left.

Fresh and Easy 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 lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano

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.

*depending on the heat you like, if you prefer milder, you can substitute green chilis, which are also in season right now. I’m roasting some tonight to freeze.

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

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I’m bummed about the late harvest, but I’ve had a very busy few weeks, so I guess it’s a good thing. I’ll have to start freezing tomato sauce by the weekend.  How do things look in your garden?


 

Garden Fresh: Summer Salsas

The tomato harvest has been lackluster this year. Weird weather has caused the fruit to be small and slow to ripen. Some I’m afraid are not going to ripen at all. The San Marzano, which should be about the size of a Roma, look more like cherry tomatoes. Early Girls are anything but early and no bigger than golf balls. And I have to wonder what the Park Wonders would look like in a good year – beefsteak size for sure. Flavor has been great on all of them, so I take comfort in that.

Since the jalapenos are not only abundant this year, but incredibly hot, I decided to try and roast them to bring out a bit of the sweetness. It wasn’t all that successful, but I did manage to make a couple of jars of pickled jalapeno and freeze them to use sparingly in cooking over the winter. Continue reading

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.



 

Super Bowl Sunday Favorite Snack Recipes

JeffreyW's Awesome Nachos

JeffreyW’s Awesome Nachos

It’s almost Super Bowl Sunday, when you sit down to stuff your face with favorite snack foods, drink beer and watch the Super Bowl Commercials.  I think there is some football in there somewhere.

It seems to have become a tradition to repost these recipes, some of my favorites. I’ve added JeffreyW’s Hot Wings to the group. Click here for his deep fried wings (pictured above) and Bleu Cheese Dip. For all his Hot Wing variations, click here.

You can’t go wrong with nachos – easy and easy to pile high with your favorites ingredients.

Here’s a kinda healthy version: Black Bean and Corn Nachos, recipe here.

JeffreyW gets creative with his pizzas, here , herehere  and if you want to see them all, here (the man does love a good pizza).

For something a little different, Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe is here.

Now it’s your turn, what are you planning on making this Sunday and more importantly what beer are you serving?  Do you make chicken wings or buy them from a favorite place? Most importantly, Broncos or Panthers?

Tonight’s featured recipes – one traditional, one a bit more creative:

Quick and Easy Chili

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3-5 Jalapenos finely chopped (depending on heat)
  • 1/2 green pepper chopped
  • 1/2 sweet onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed and chopped
  • Lg. can V8 Juice
  • 2 cans kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Original Ro-Tel
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika

Brown ground beef and drain. Saute jalapenos, green pepper, onion and garlic. In large pot combine all ingredients bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered for at least 30 minutes.

In my house we serve chili with fritos and shredded cheddar, layered in a bowl – fritos, chili, cheese and more fritos.

Slow Cooker instructions:  Following instructions above, add everything to slow cooker, cook on high for 15 minutes, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 6 to 8 hours.

Also, if you are serving at a party, you can cook in large pot above for 30 minutes and then transfer to slow cooker on low or warm to keep it hot during the festivities.

Looking for a little more kicked up chili? Check out JeffreyW’s Chorizo Chili here.

And my favorites to take to a party:

Basic Tortilla Pinwheels

  • 1 (8 ounce) package whipped cream cheese
  • 10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup black olives, chopped (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chopped ham slices

You spread the ingredients on the tortillas, roll them up and slice them into 1 inch pinwheels. Couldn’t get much easier.

So how do we add some dazzle? Flavored tortillas and a variety of fillings.

Here are some ideas I had:

Jalapeño & Cilantro Tortillas and Black Bean Tortillas

  • Cream Cheese
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Sliced green chilies
  • Turkey
  • Salsa
  • Black olives
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Roasted Red Pepper Tortillas and Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Tortillas

  • Cream cheese mixed with crushed roasted garlic
  • Spinach
  • Pepperoni
  • Grated Parmesan

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What will you be doing during the big game? Have any fun snack recipes to share? Don’t be shy, I’m always looking for something new and unusual.

I will have a Bixby/Scout update this weekend! And I have the makings for a post on how to overcome the winter cooking blues (when I really need to have some lighter, fresher dinner ingredients about this time of  year). Until then…



 

Do You Know What Happens to Tomatoes at High Altitude (and a Peach Cobbler Recipe)

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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:

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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:

peaches2

Peach 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 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…..



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: On The Road

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An unexpected family event means I’m on the road this week camped out at my brother’s house. So while everyone is at work and school I’m putting together dinner tonight.

I brought peaches from Palisades, but they will not make it into a recipe, they are too good by themselves and I didn’t have enough room (thanks Bixby) to bring an entire flat with me. But they are still the main ingredient in tonight’s featured recipes.

Speaking of peaches, Mrs. J’s Famous Peach Pie is pictured above and the recipe is here.

And if you have the grill going anyway, throw some peaches on for Grilled Peaches (recipe here)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’m making Chipotle-Orange Glaze Grilled Chicken (recipe here), Cucumber-Tomato Salad (our traditional family style recipe here) and of course grilled corn steamed rice (someone forgot the corn on the way home from work).

For the pet lovers, Bixby had quite the adventures last week as a bunch of us celebrated my birthday. He wishes every week was like that. You can read about it here.

How’d your week go? Any fun plans on the menu this weekend? Anyone heading out to a state fair and want to report back on what they’re trying to deep fry this year? Share your tales of gastric adventures.

Peaches and Strawberries 2

For tonight’s featured recipes, I’m posting two of my favorites to make when the peach basket overflows with Palisade Peach bounty. They are great with grilled chicken or pork, and the salsa makes a great side with fish.

Peach Salsa

  • 2 cups diced peeled peaches (2 to 3 peaches)
  • 4 thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, about 1 medium lime
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons finely minced hot or mild green chile pepper, or to taste
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • dash ginger
  • dash garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon orange or pineapple juice
  • dash freshly ground black pepper

Mix together and let meld together for about 30 minutes or more before serving.

Peach Chutney

  • 2 large peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger or 1 tbsp minced fresh
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • salt to taste

small sauce pan

Add all ingredients to sauce pan, heat to boiling – stirring constantly, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, until slightly thickened.

That’s it for this week. Excuse me while I try to figure out how to turn down the heat on the Chipotle-Orange glaze before my family disowns me.  Whimps – TaMara

 



 

 

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:

DSC_7740 [1024x768]

(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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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