Tidbits

We brought in some more tomatoes and promptly turned them into stewed tomatoes with lots of peppers and onions.We canned most of it but saved out enough to make our favorite sauce.The tomatoes and peppers with chicken broth and a pound each of Italian sausage and hamburger.  The usual herbs and spices went in: granulated onion and garlic, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, basil, black pepper and salt.Which we had with rice because its’s good that way.  The recipe was modified from a stuffed pepper soup recipe and the rice was a part of that.  It’s great on pasta.So we used the rest of that batch to make another lasagna,  We used ricotta in this one and that turned it into maybe the best lasagna I’ve ever made.  This one cooked at 350 for an hour, the mozz on the top browned up nicely.We said goodbye to a humongous corkscrew willow.  We planted it soon after we moved in, maybe 25+ years ago.  It grew fast and started to lose big branches, we worried they would take out infrastructure.Honey bees were attracted to the sap oozing from the fresh cuts.  We are leaving the big ol’ stump right where it is for now.Random sammich – we kept a tomato or three out of the pot just for one of these.  That’s a lucky double yolk on that egg!

Cabbage Rolls

DSC_1876 (1600x1060)This is my first try at cabbage rolls and they came out well enough that I’ll probably add them to the rotation.  My first notion was to do these in the pressure cooker and the recipe I used was written for that method but I ended up with so many I decided to just use the oven.20160228_105028 (1600x1060)I’m sure the folks who eat these regularly will giggle at my ham handed rolling skills but these aren’t all that bad!  I used ground beef and hot Italian sausage in the filling, along with the rice.  The recipe made 12 rolls, with the last one a jumbo in order to use all the meat mixture up.  They used about 1/4 cup each.20160228_125838 (1600x1060)After pouring the tomato sauce mixture over the rolls they were covered in foil and cooked for 2 hours at 350 degrees.  I used a can of tomato bits with green chilies and a can of roasted garlic tomato bits along with the tomato sauce.  I’m pretty sure these are hard to overcook.20160228_130625 (1600x1060)Yum!  I wasn’t sure what sides would work but a scan of a few forums saw many mentions of mashed potatoes so we went that way.  Good call, they worked well.

Friday Recipe Exchange: What’s Cookin’ This Week

Chicken Biscuit Pie_Snapseed1

I thought this week I would again just review what I had cookin’ in my kitchen. And tonight’s feature recipe was inspired by a photo request mid-week. We get requests from time to time to use our photos. No surprise they are almost always JeffreyW’s. I believe there is even a Wikipedia entry that features one of his photos. This week it was a request to use his Enchilada Pie photo, seen below.

First up this week was Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuit Pie, pictured above and recipe here.

Next was Cream of Potato Cheese Soup, (full dinner menu, recipes and shopping list are here).

Bixby has been out of homemade treats since just before Christmas, so I decided it was time to make a batch of Pumpkin-Peanut Butter Cookies, recipe here. I had forgotten how much he liked them – he barely let me finish making them – bugged me the entire time. Speaking of cookies, the next night it was Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe here). I baked a dozen and then froze the rest as individual cookie dough balls to be baked later.

Speaking of Bixby, here is an update for the pet lovers, with bonus video.

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You can see why there was a request to use Jeffreyw’s photo above. Here is his recipe for Enchilada Montadas. For tonight’s featured recipes, a variation on enchiladas and black beans that is quick and easy to put together:

Enchilada Pie

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 20 oz. enchilada sauce
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, grated

skillet & 8×8 glass baking dish, lightly oiled

Add beef and onion to skillet and cook until beef is browned and onions are translucent. Add spices and sauces; let simmer while you prep tortillas. Tear tortillas into strips and use some to cover the bottom of a well-oiled casserole dish. Layer a portion of the beef mixture and cheese on top, then repeat (tortillas, beef, cheese) to fill up casserole; finish with layer of cheese. Bake 30 minutes at 350°

Black Bean Confetti

  • 14 oz can black beans
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Dash of limejuice

saucepans & large serving bowl or platter

In saucepan, add ingredients (except limejuice) and heat on medium. Toss with limejuice and serve.

That’s it for this week. There seems to be a pretty big game this weekend – I was asked who I was cheering for, since I have family and friends in New England and of course live in Colorado – my response: unless it’s the Red Sox, I am Switzerland. So good to everyone. And to those in the path of the big storm, stay safe and warm. – TaMara

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Lasagna

DSC_1215 (1600x1060)I thought about making a lasagna with a bechamel sauce to carry the cheese but went with ricotta instead.  Why mess with a good thing?  I mixed a couple of eggs with the ricotta, a package of chopped spinach, a little shredded mozzarella, and a fair handful of Parmesan.  The tomato sauce was from a jar I canned last summer, with some crumbled and browned Italian sausage.  I had a loaf of fresh mozzarella to layer over the top.  Worked out nicely, had a good flavor, and this time I managed to wait a little while before I plated a serving so it held together better than my usual.DSC_1211 (1600x1060)We bought a set of these individual sized casseroles so I made a Mrs J sized portion for her.  I like the looks of the dishes and I’m going to do a mac & cheese in them one of these days.

Pasta Pr0n

DSC_1034 (1600x1060)I went to the pantry and found a quart of last year’s tomato sauce for a pasta meat sauce.  I made quite a bit, adding a big onion, several peppers from the patio garden, Italian sausage, lots of minced garlic, and plenty of fresh herbs.  We had it on spaghetti for lunch, leaving plenty sauce for a supper dish.DSC_1039 (1600x1060) TaMara’s cast iron purchase made me do this in one of my skillets.  This 10 incher is just big enough for 8 ounces of cooked rigatoni with sauce and some mozzarella we had leftover from yesterday’s pizza.DSC_1041 (1600x1060)I noticed that a couple of the recipes I looked at called for assembling the dish in individual sized casseroles but I don’t have anything suitable so I used the pan I had.  I discovered why the mention of individual portions – you need a helper with scissors to cut the mozzarella strings when spooning the pasta into bowls!

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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