Showing posts with label homegrown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homegrown. Show all posts

Thursday, May 23, 2013

summer club

Summer is by far my favorite time of the year. It has everything. From gazing at giant blue hydrangeas to jumping into pristine pools, every second is seductive to the senses. And the food is no exception. Succulent strawberries, sweet corn, you name it, it is just better in the summer. This sandwich contains several of my summer favorites.

To make your own you will need the following:
crusty french bread
fresh basil
fresh mozzarella
homemade pesto
salt and pepper

Cut the bread into long sections and halve it. Smear with pesto. You can try my traditional basil recipe or my spicy collard green version. Slice the tomato and sink into the pesto. Top with fresh mozzarella. Salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh basil leaves on top. I get mine straight out of my garden.

This caprese club is cool on a hot day and the bold flavors will leave you satisfied but not stuffed. Served with a slice of watermelon and a tall glass of sweet tea, you will be able to taste the season.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

fire and ice

We sadly picked up our last bag of CSA goodies last week at our local botanical garden farmers' market. Somehow every week that we have gone the weather has been beautiful. I strap the kids in my double stroller, a gadget that has truly changed my life, and we stroll along from booth to booth, grab our CSA, get a few extras from other farmers, and then take a walk through the gardens. Luckily we are members and can still visit the garden, but I will miss my weekly influx of fresh local food. My son will miss the weekly Italian ice. Even when the days grew colder, he insisted our first stop be for "ice cream."

I have never understood people who could eat cold things when it was cold outside. As soon as the air gets brisk and leaves are crunching under my feet, I am all about pots of chili and mugs of cider. That doesn't however, stop me from enlisting my husband to venture out into the cold to grill. Lucky for me, like many men, my carnivore is always ready to light a fire.

Not too long ago we whipped up some kabobs. The carnivore, of course, had a selection of meats on a stick. I, wanting something meaty too, opted for mushrooms. All I did was toss cleaned baby bellas in a large ziplock bag with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and some fresh basil (which is still growing in my herb garden despite the cold snap). I then skewered and the carnivore grilled them for about eight minutes. I covered them with fresh feta crumbles, a few grape tomatoes, and more basil. It made for a wonderful main course alongside brown rice and green beans. 

It may have been cold outside, but these warm morsels filled me up. Of course, there is always room for dessert...Ice cream for dessert, anyone?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

good sense

When I cook for the carnivore I obviously can't taste the food, so I have to rely on my other senses. I listen for the sizzle of the steak in the pan. I look at the browned skin on the chicken thighs. I feel the thick cut of the bacon. And finally, there is my sense of smell, which I used in this recipe. When I made these crockpot carnitas, my whole house smelled like a Mexican restaurant. I knew before the meat hit my man's lips that this recipe was going to be a repeat in out house.

Now, I should start out by saying that as my carnivore hubs pointed out to me, carnitas is traditionally made with pork. This recipe, which I found on this great blog - eat, live, run - called for beef and that is what I used. If you want to substitute pork I think you could. In fact, the original recipe called for flank steak, but I could only find a flat iron. I made a few other adjustments too. Here is what you will need to make this marvelous Mexican dish as I did:

1.5 lbs flat iron steak
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red chili pepper, seeded, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Start by mixing the spices together in a small bowl. Then rub the mixture generously over the meat. Place the steak in the crockpot. Cover with the chopped onions and peppers (ours came from either our backyard or our CSA). Turn the heat on low and cook for eight hours. Shred the meat in the pot with two forks. How easy is that?

Serve on your favorite type of tortilla - flour, corn, or even whole wheat. I was lucky to get my carnivore to eat the peppers that had marinated in the meat juice all day, and that was only because he grew some of them. But, if you have a less veggie averse meat eater you can top your tacos with avocado, cilantro, salsa and lime juice.

You can almost taste it now just reading this, right?

menu ideas:
Since I didn't have to worry about the carnivore's main dish after I put it in the slow cooker after breakfast, I made my own soy crumble tacos. Mine were complete with avocados, tomatoes, and all the fixins. We also had grilled corn in the husks and seasoned black beans.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

sweet and savory

I keep trying to explain the difference between sweet and savory to my carnivore. I give examples - like brownies are sweet, but steak is savory. And he just looks at me befuddle. "But they both taste really good. I don't get it." Sigh. These are the burdens of being a foodie living with a man who has the palate of a five year old. I can't even bring up the idea of something that is both sweet and savory in the same dish.

But this grilled fig pie is just that. The sweet figs and honey are balanced perfectly with the strong blue cheese and buttery crust. Plus, it is simple to make. And while my carnivore might not like or understand it fully, it does involve the grill - which he can get behind.

To make your own sweet and savory pie gather the following:
1 ready made pie crust, thawed
1 1/2 cups of figs, halved
1/2 cup of blue cheese crumbles
local honey, drizzling
fresh mint, for topping

Start by preheating you grill on low. Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with non-stick spray. Place the crust on the foil. Add in the figs and blue cheese. Fold the corners of the crust to secure the filling. Wrap the foil up, creating a tent around the pie. Place on low or indirect heat for 15-20 minutes, until crust gets browned. Remove and drizzle with honey and top with mint. Serve warm.

We are lucky enough to have a fig tree in our backyard. Last year I had so many figs I many cinnamon fig preserves for everyone to have at Christmas. This year the squirrels were faster than me. But I am so glad I salvaged enough to make this pie. It was incredible. Sweet and savory.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

short and sweet

When I was a little girl my mom and I had a few food rituals. On summer days we would have picnics outside under a shady tree. Our basket was usually full of cheese straws and super big salads. In the winter we would make huge pots of chili and eat it with tiny oyster crackers. But no matter what the time of year, if my mother wanted to reward me with something special, she would take me to the cookie shop. I would always get the same thing. No chocolate chunks or candy filled cookies for me. I wanted a plain shortbread cookie. They were sweet, but not too sweet. And the buttery bits would just melt in my mouth. 

I may have outgrown my trips to the cookie shop, but I haven't outgrown my love of shortbread cookies. And thanks to a good harvest of rosemary from my yard and a wonderful recipe from The Church Cook I have learned a whole new way to enjoy the.

To make your own you will need the following:
2 sticks butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar, extra for dusting
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 teaspoons grated Meyer lemon zest
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, mix until blended. Add the rosemary, lemon zest salt and flour and mix well. Divide dough in half and shape into log. Roll logs up in wax paper about 1 ½ inch in diameter. Chill for at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut logs into ¼ inch slices, roll in sugar and place on parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are pale brown.

I only had regular lemons on hand, but the cookies were still wonderful. They were sweet, but not too sweet, just like I remembered. But this time I got to treat my own kids to this food tradition. Wouldn't you know it, they thought the cookies were pretty special too.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

too much of a good thing

Remember Shirley McClain in Steel Magnolias? You know the scene where she dumps a bushel of tomatoes in her friend's lap. It goes like this:

Ouiser - Tomatoes. (put's em in Clairie's lap)
Clairee - Don't give these all to me!

Ouiser - Somebody's gotta take em. I hate em. I try not to eat healthy food if I can possibly help it. The sooner my body gives out the better off I'll be... I can't get enough grease into my diet.
Anelle - Then why do you grow them?
Ouiser - Because I'm an old Southern woman and we're supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt. Don't ask me those questions. I don't know why, I don't make the rules! *burps loudly*

This about sums up my house and tomatoes. Of course, in this scenario my hubby does the digging in the dirt. My last couple of posts have given you ideas for how to use up those final amazing tomatoes of the season, and here is one more. If you are lucky enough to live with a carnivore who will eat them, I'm jealous. If not - more tomatoes for you!

For this basic bruschetta gather the following ingredients:
4-6 heirloom tomatoes, diced
8-10 basil leaves, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil, for drizzling
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Once you have the tomatoes, basil and garlic prepped as mentioned above, toss them together in a large bowl. Drizzle the oil over the the mixture and add the salt and pepper to taste. Let set in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

I served mine on a tray with some bread from our CSA and another dipping sauce of oil and fresh herbs from my garden. Even my little omnivore got in on this tomato action. We gobbled up these goodies while we waited on daddy to get home for dinner. Good thing. I don't think I can eat all of these tomatoes myself!

P.S. A quick note of thanks to my friend Katie for sending me some version of this recipe several times!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

all up in my grill

The end of summer is nearing. No more swim diapers or splash parks for my family. Sad, I know. Even sadder, in my opinion, we are coming to the end of summer foods. Before we know it there will be no more juicy cantaloupe chins or strawberry stained shirts. And then there is tomatoes. Thanks to my garden and my CSA, we have enjoyed so many varieties of tomatoes in so many ways this years. Well...I say we...I mean me and the kids. Not so much the carnivore. But the beauty of how our family makes meals work is that I still get to enjoy summer's finest fruit while he enjoys his favorite foods, i.e. any meat on the grill. What can I say? That man loves to grill.

Take this recipe, for example. While he heated up a steak over an open flame, he also helped me cook these grilled tomatoes. I found the idea on a great Italian blog which you should check out here. I wasn't too exact with the recipe, but this is generally what you need:

Several small tomatoes (I used romas and mr. stripeys), halved
1/2 cup or so of grated parmesan cheese
enough olive oil to coat the cheese
freshly chopped herbs (I used basil and oregano)
a dash or two of garlic powder
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Start by cutting the tomatoes in half and then mixing together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Spray your grill. Then over a low heat place the tomatoes cut side down on the grill for about three minutes. Turn the tomatoes over and top with the cheese mixture. Grill for another two to three minutes. Serve warm.

Summer may be fading, but the taste of these sweet grilled tomatoes will linger in my memory for months to come.

menu ideas:
These grilled guys would make a great side dish at your next cookout. I had these as my main dish along side creamy pasta and sauteed zuchini. Like I said before, the carnivore had a steak with the same sides.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Remember when Sean Combs became Puff Daddy and then he was Puffy. Or maybe it was the other way around. And then he was P.Diddy or some craziness. It devolved from there I'm sure. I guess we have Prince to thank for all of this. I bring this up for two reasons - (1) I just heard Snoop Dogg is trying to change his name to Snoop Lion after a life changing trip to Jamaica. Not happening. He can clean up his songs and his image all he wants, but he still resembles a dobberman pincher. (2) This recipe has puff pastry and it also made me think of Puffy, or whatever his name is now.

Sorry for the the digression, but now to the food. This gorgeous dish is thanks to the over abundance of tomatoes in my house this time of year. My carnivore won't eat them unless they are in ketchup or marinara form, but he will grown them - lots of them. That combined with the numerous heirloom varieties I get in my CSA mean I have to come up with lots of ways to use tomatoes. And this dish couldn't be easier.

To make your own tomato puff you will need the following:
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
flour for dusting
several small tomatoes
fresh goat cheese, about half a small log
5-6 fresh basil leaves
a drizzle of olive oil
fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the pasty to form a long rectangle. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and place the the dough on. Slice the tomatoes and layer them on the pastry. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with goat cheese crumbles. Bake for 15-20 minutes until pastry puff and gets golden brown. Once ready, chiffonade the basil leaves and put on top. Slice and serve warm.

This dish is sinfully good and simply stunning. It is my favorite puffy of any kind, whatever you call it.

menu ideas:
This would make a beautiful starter at a dinner party. I had this as my main course along side sauteed green beans and buttered brown rice. The carnivore had grilled chicken with the same sides.

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