Thursday, November 7, 2013

every last bite

As much as I love comforting fall foods, I have to admit I miss the fresh produce summer provides - especially tomatoes. Unfortunately, once the temperatures start to dip I want a salad less frequently. But as the final bits of this years' harvest make it in my CSA bag, I am determined to find a way to use and savor every last bite. This recipe for roasted roma tomatoes in fresh herbs does just that.

You will need:
1 quart of roma tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
fresh herbs, such as basil and oregano

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Quarter the roma tomatoes. Remove seeds by sliding your fingers down the sides. Place on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Top with freshly ground pepper. Lightly chop fresh herbs and scatter over tomatoes. Place in oven for two hours. Remove and let cool. Store in air tight container like jar or freezer bag. Place in freezer for up to six months.

These chewy flavor packed tomatoes can be used to top a pizza, tossed in with your favorite pasta, or blended into you favorite sauce with the help of a food processor. The would be great chopped into an omelet or quiche. Along with come wilted spinach they would be wonderful on top of a grilled portabella. You can even make a fantastic pesto spread with them. The possibilities are endless. And I am going to enjoy every last one.

Friday, October 18, 2013

as american as apple pie

Look, I love the slow food movement. I am all about taking your time and getting things done right - especially food. But, sometimes you need something quick and easy. In my life, I have the two most adorable and precious little time-sucks, I mean toddlers, that take up most of my energy, focus, and patience. So when we get invited to a BBQ or a family gathering, I am not gonna lie - I try to find a dish to bring that is simple to make. Take this short-cut on apple pie that I recently took to my Dad's house. It is tasty but not time consuming.

You will need the following:
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1-2 medium apples, breaburn or honeycrisp are my favorite
1 heaping table spoon of sugar
1 tsp of cinnamon
local honey, for drizzling
flour for dusting

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and prep with non-stick spray. Slice the apples thinly. Place in a large mixing bowl and toss with cinnamon and sugar til well coated. Set aside. Roll of the puff pastry very thin into a rectangle shape. Use flour as needed to keep from sticking to working surface and rolling pin. Place dough on baking sheet. Top with apples in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes, until crust is golden. Remove and drizzle with honey.

I felt like a housewife from the 1950s that had just been introduced to the wonders of a microwave. Food that's quick and easy - but that my family will gobble up - I'm in! Okay, maybe I'm not ready to go that far away from the slow food movement. But this shortcut on an American classic is sure to become a family tradition.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

having your mushroom and eating it too

Sometimes when my carnivore and I go out to eat (which is rare with two toddlers) I see things on the menu that aren't vegetarian, but that I kinda wish I could have. Sure sometimes they will substitute this or that, but it isn't right there on the menu. What if you don't eat meat but that mushroom swiss burger sounds good? Well, you can do what I do - go home and recreate your own version.

You will need:
2 tblsp olive oil
1/2 small red onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, diced
1 large portabella mushroom cap
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 slices of swiss cheese
a few sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)

Place one tablespoon of the oil in a skillet and heat over a medium flame. Add in garlic and onion. Place the mushroom in the pan and drizzle with remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper. Let onions caramelize and mushroom soften, about five minutes. Top the mushroom with cheese slices. Scoop onions onto of cheese and let it melt slightly. Remove from skillet and garnish with fresh thyme.

The meaty mushroom is just as filling as a big burger. Paired with the creamy swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and woodsy thyme each bite is delicious. Maybe some one should put it on their menu. Until then I will stay at home and have my mushroom swiss burger and eat it too!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

sippy cups

My children seem to reach new milestones everyday. It happens faster with the second than the first child. Before you know it they are sleeping through the night (and waking at six in the morning), walking (and falling...lots), and talking (and repeating things you wish you hadn't said in front of them). Right now we are potty training my second child. And true to form, she is mastering this skill in no time. But when it comes to somethings we seem to be stuck. Sure we have moved out of bibs (and invested in more stain removal spray), but we still use sippy cups. Not that they can't drink from a real glass, but I clean up enough messes. (Did I mention we are potty training?) And, I don't need anyone - including me - crying over spilled milk, or juice, or whatever. So we use sippy cups. And after a day of new milestones, and a few setbacks, I like to have my own sweet drink to sip - like this refreshing watermelon cooler.

To make your own you will need:
Several slices of watermelon
4 strawberries, hulled
A few fresh sprigs of mint
Juice from 1/2 a lime, more for garnish

Place the lime juice in the collection container of a juicer. Add in the mint, berries, and melon to the juicer. Be sure to remove any rinds and seeds from the watermelon first. Juice ingredients completely. Stir and pour over ice. Garnish with more mint and lime. Serve immediately.

This is great (baby) poolside or even in the middle of a hectic day indoors. My kids even like it. Of course, I serve theirs in a sippy cup.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

castiron cobbler

Traditions are big in the South.  We believe that if someone is a minute older than you, you call them sir or m'am. We believe the everyone should read a lot of Mark Twain, and a little William Faulkner. We believe that Saturdays are football, and Sundays and for church. And birthdays are to be celebrated with a little something sweet. Sure most people want cake or ice cream on their birthday, but in the South we have pies galore - mile high coconut, overly rich chocolate pies, super sweet lemon ice box, and pecan to choose from. And then there is cobbler. So many fruits in the summer to pick from. And when it is your birthday, you get to have your cobbler and eat it too. I just made a version of this for my mother's birthday.

You will need:
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla
a pinch of salt
3 small peaches
1.5 cups of blackberries or blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the cast iron skillet. Melt the butter in a small pan or microwave. In a large bowl combine butter with sugar, flour, vanilla, salt, and baking powder. Add this mixture to the skillet. Peel the peaches, remove the pits and slice them. Place them atop the batter in the skillet. Then add in the berries. Bake for 55 minutes, or until the crust begins to brown and pull away from the sides of the skillet.

Serve warm with or without vanilla ice cream...or eat it straight from the cast iron skillet. Traditions be damned.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

honey do

My dear, sweet hubby has a never ending honey do list. He gets sent reminders all the time with things like - I need you to get ice cream and salmon on your way home, and could you see if anyone is still selling kiddie pools, oh, and the cable box in the kitchen isn't working, and the mosquitos are so bad in the backyard, can you fix that? Poor fella. He not only works full time at the office, but I keep him busy on his "down time" too. I do try to sweeten my requests by keeping him well fed with homemade goodies - like this strawberry honey jam. Good for a quick he can eat and then get to work ;)

To make your own you will need:
6 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
1 cup of honey
1 cup of sugar
the juice from half a large lemon

Bring a large pot of water to just below a boil. Place jars and lids in the pot and sanitize them for several minutes.

In the meantime, place the strawberries in a separate large pot along with the sugar and honey. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Use a potato masher to break up the fruit into smaller pieces. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add in the lemon juice. Stir on final time.

Remove a jar and a lid from the other pot. Using a funnel, add the jam to the jar. Careful not to overfill the jars, leave a little space at the top. Place the lid on the jar and close tightly. Repeat process until you are out of jam.

Return the now full jars to the already warmed pot of water. Bring the water up to a boil and cook for at least twenty minutes. Remove the jars and place them on a towel on the counter to cool for at least twenty-four hours. Do not move the jars. If you hear a popping noise you may need to re-process them. Store in a cool dry place or serve immediately.

My whole family loves this jam. Even my honey. Add making it to your to do list and you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

csa on a stick

When my CSA comes each week its like a little celebration. It reminds me of when I was little and I got to go to the fair. Rides, funnel cakes, carnival games - it was fun at every turn. And all the food on a stick. Candied apples, foot long corn dogs - you name it the food was fun too. So when my CSA came this past week, I decided to recreate the feeling in a way...a fresher and more healthy way...but still on a stick!

You need the following:
1-2 spring onions
2-3 summer squash
several cherry tomatoes
2 tblsp of olive oil
fresh herbs like basil and oregano
salt and pepper, to taste

Soak your kabob sticks in water for at least twenty minutes. Preheat the grill to medium heat. Slice the onions and squash. Place in a large ziplock bag with the tomatoes. Chop the fresh herbs and add them in. Finally pour in the oil. Seal the bag and toss til well coated. Add in salt and pepper and toss again. Let marinate at least an hour. Skewer veggies and place on grill. Cook for about eight minutes, turning every 2-3 minutes.

menu ideas:
I had these grilled veggies along with brown rice and green beans. The hubs grilled his own shrimp kabobs at the same time.

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