Thursday, July 29, 2010

Blueberry Salsa

(My pictures didn't turn out, so this is the pic from the website.)

I went to the Happy Berry farm and picked blueberries a few weeks ago, so I decided to make some fresh blueberry salsa from a Southern Living recipe, and am just now getting around to posting. I was a little skeptical as to whether I'd like it or not, but I actually really liked it! Just ate it with corn tortilla chips, but I think it would be really great over grilled chicken, too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan Baked Ziti

My inspiration for this meal was 5-fold.

1. We had some eggplant from our garden.
2. I love eggplant parmesan.
3. I hate making eggplant parmesan.
4. We are trying to sell our house and anytime we fry anything, the house smells like fried food for days on end.
5. I am trying to use up all my pantry items (see #4) and had lots of breadcrumbs on hand.

My solution was a baked pasta with all the flavors and textures of eggplant parmesan, without the hassle.

3 small/medium eggplant
1 lb pasta (I used whole wheat penne)
olive oil
salt & pepper
2 tbsp minced rosemary
4 tbsp minced basil
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup mozzarella and/or parmesan cheese
1 jar marinara sauce (Here in Nebraska, my tomatoes are big and beautiful, but green. If they were ripe I might have attempted to make a sauce...maybe.)

Preheat the oven to 350. Get some water boiling for the pasta. Meanwhile, slice the eggplant about 1/4 inch thick, place it on a baking sheet, and season with olive oil, salt, pepper, and half the chopped basil and rosemary. Reserve the rest for the bread crumbs.

Bake the eggplant for about 10 minutes at 350, until just tender. Mix the bread crumbs with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and the reserved basil and rosemary. Set aside.
When the water is ready, boil the pasta a couple of minutes less than recommended on the package. Drain and toss with the marinara sauce. In a 9x13'' casserole dish, layer half of the pasta/sauce and top with half of the eggplant arranged in a tight layer. Sprinkle the eggplant with about half a cup of mozzarella/parmesan cheese. Repeat with remaining pasta, eggplant and cheese. Top with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 until the bread crumbs are toasty and brown. For me it took 25-30 minutes.
The reviews from the family were pretty good, and it did taste like eggplant parm, without the mess or the lingering smell.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fresh Tomato Lasagna


Robin posted this recipe in our first year. I never really considered it because really the last thing I want to do with my fresh tomatoes is spend all day in the kitchen making them into a lasagna. However, my CSA pickup had just as many tomatoes this week as it did last week and well, you got to do something with them!

And yes, it is lasagna so it is a little time intensive and yes, there are a lot of steps, but it really wasn't that bad. I used no boil noodles and blanced the tomatoes to get the peels off. Really, it was no problem. The directions call for you to make this in a 9 x 13 pan, so like always, I split it into two to freeze one.


I really wasn't sure how this was going to turn out, but my husband, he is a little like Simon on American Idol, very stingy with the compliments. In his first couple of bites he said, "This is great. Very light. I like it." so there you go.

You do lose some of that fresh tomato taste because you simmer the sauce for so long. I did add some fresh oregano and rosemary to the sauce as well as basil cause I had some. But the result was still really good. Can't wait for that second pan.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Chicken Biryani


I did use some of my fresh tomatoes and a jalapenos for this recipe, but I don't know if it really counts for this challenge. I more want to share it because it is just a good yet easy recipe and one pot meal. You can find the recipe here.

I served it with pita chips and the cucumber and tomato salsa that is listed in the notes.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Grilled Pork Chops with Two Melon Salsa...and more!


So, again, I like to buy those really big seeded watermelon in the summer because they are really delicious. Unfortuately, there is no way that James and I (really, mainly James) can eat a whole one. I usually try to give half away, but you are still left with lots of watermelon. I saw this recipe in a recent Cooking Light and it really seemed like a good thing to try. For my other melon, I used a cantalope we got with our CSA. This was ok, I think I would have liked it better with out the cantalope (not really a fan), but really the pork chop itself was just a little bland. The salsa was not really enough to make it work it. Anyways, I may make it again but maybe with chicken...not really sure.

Moving on, again, really big watermelon and thanks to the 2 salsa recipe, I have 1 cup less than I did. I tried this watermelon margarita recipe earlier this year and thought it was ok. This weekend, I had 3 different bags of watermelon, it was starting to get a little funky, I decided to make it again. Glad I did! First of all, I am not giving this its own post because I have already posted a watermelon margarita recipe. This recipe was a lot easier to make which helps to give it a better review. I think the first time I made it, I was expecting more of a frozen result, but really it is just over the rocks. Also, this past watermelon was a little sweeter than my first one, and I think that is what made it better. This picture isn't that great, but I was heading out to the pool.


Lindsey actually posted my last recipe and I have made it before...Fresh Tomato Sauce. This one was good because it used up a lot of tomatoes and made enough to freeze. So simple and easy to make too, I topped it with a little romano cheese. The picture with the past really doesn't do the sauce justice, so there is another picture of just the sauce.



Another pick up tomorrow. At least most of this week's produce has been used!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

CSA Jackpot

I was in a CSA last year, but I never was very impressed. It seemed kind of pricey compared to what we got. It may have just been that year because it had been cool and rainy. But when things finally started to come was over. I was hesitant to join it again this year, but really missed the challenge of cooking from my share. I found this one CSA that also had a stand at a farmers market. Just in chit chatting with him he told me that his shares were $10/week. I decided to go ahead and commit thinking that if I was disppointed, it wasn't all that expensive. This is what I got this week:


There is so much in here, that you can't really even see it all. It ended up being like 20 lbs of produce! Now, I am excited, but also a little afraid. What to do with all these tomatoes?!?!? First things first, I grilled some of the eggplant. I sliced a few pieces about 1/4 inch thick then maranaded it with olive oil, garlic, rosemary, plus salt and pepper, then grilled about 3 min on each side. YUM! Practically melted in my mouth!

Now, first batch of tomatoes - romas. You may not be aware of it, but this post of salsa fresca has gotten a lot of traffic. This was my base for my salsa. Put it all in the food processor and there you go:


In the orginal posting, the consistancy of the salsa was a litle thing. I cut off the ends of the romas and squeezed out the juice. I got a nice thick salsa:


This was a great snack to eat while watching the tour de france!


Friday, July 16, 2010

Carbanara with Lemon Basil Sauce

I was a bit disappointed in the Strawberry Soup (although very very tasty) being rather soup-less. So I thought with another attempt I would use Basil. This is my first year of having success with growing my herbs in pots out on my deck. My basil is especially lush and abundant and so I put together this recipe for Penna Carbonara with Basil Lemon Cream that I found here. I loved the cream but honestly found more of the aroma of Lemon rather than any taste of lemon. But ohhhhhh, this recipe is indeed lovely.
     The recipe claims to serve four but even with the three of us putting a good amount into our bellies there was still enough for all of us to eat it again for another meal. Also, because my hubby hates vegetables mixed in pasta dishes I had to omit the veggies. Nuts are another no no for meals so the pine nuts were left out. This is probably a good thing with the price of pine nuts these day!

  Penne Carbonara With Basil Lemon Cream
Yield: 4 Servings

1/4 cup Smoked bacon, chopped I used half a pound of bacon...
never can have too much bacon!
2 oz. Butter
1 tsp. Garlic, minced I used one clove garlic
1/4 cup Onion, diced Used half of an onion
1 cup Mixed vegetables: carrot, peas, corn, Lima beans, green beans omitted
2 tsp. Pine nuts, toasted omitted
1 1/2 cup Chef Larry's Basil Lemon Cream (recipe follows)
 I ended up using all the cream sauce because I felt it was too dry at the 1 1/2 cup amount
1 1/4 lb. Penne Rigate pasta, cooked "al dente" used pasta I had on hand
1 tsp. Parsley, chopped
to taste Salt
to taste Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup Shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
I served with a tons of Parmesan... for me, Parmesan cheese is never optional!
to garnish Fresh chopped parsley

Prepare Chef Larry's Basil Lemon Cream per recipe, reserve. Cook bacon in a sauté pan over medium heat until cooked. Add butter, garlic and onion. Sauté garlic briefly, do not brown. Add mixed vegetables and pine nuts, if desired. To heat pasta: place cooked pasta in lightly salted simmering water for 1-2 minutes to reheat (do not overcook.) Remove pasta from water and drain well. Add heated pasta to sauté pan with bacon and vegetables. Stir in enough of Chef Larry's Basil Lemon Sauce to coat pasta and vegetables. (Add sauce in intervals until pasta and vegetables are nicely coated.) Season pasta with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Add 2/3 tsp. of chopped and mix well. Portion pasta into heated pasta bowls. Top with optional shaved Parmesan cheese and additional chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
Basil Lemon Cream
Yield: 2 cups

1 tsp. Butter
1 tsp. Shallots, minced I used half of a shallot
but could easily use onion
1/4 tsp. Garlic, minced I used one clove garlic
2 oz. White wine
1 1/2 cups Chicken stock only had canned chicken broth on hand
2/3 cup Heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. Fresh lemon juice
to taste Salt
to taste Fresh ground black pepper
8 Basil leaves, finely minced
as needed Roux to thicken (equal parts flour and melted butter)
 I used 1 tablespoon butter melted with enough flour to make a paste

Melt butter in a saucepan, do not brown. Add shallots and garlic, sauté briefly. Add white wine, bring to a simmer and reduce by 1/2. Add stock, bring to a simmer. Cook over medium low heat for 10 minutes. Add roux to achieve desired consistency, continue to simmer. Add cream and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Finish with fresh minced basil.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Margarita Pizza

This is a last month and this month entry as I used a pizza crust recipe from the blog (Kerri's Greatest Hits)and the tomatoes and basil are from my garden:)

We also used ricotta. This is key because my husband LOVES it on pizza and it make it delicious. Not much of a recipe...just roll out the pizza crust, top with sauce, cheese then tomatoes(peeled of course), basil and ricotta:)
AM had me take a picture of her plate...just cheese.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Strawberry Soup(ish)

Never to turn away a challenge, this month I join in on the fun with the monthly challenge. The challenge for this month was to use something in season. I've always wanted to try a fruit soup. I found this interesting recipe for Strawberry Soup at allrecipes. I made a few changes based on the ingredients I had in my kitchen as I was too hot and too lazy to go shopping! It was delicious, but more beverage like than soup though. Will have to try another fruit soup again.... someday. I have posted the recipe as I found it and in the italics I have put my changes. Enjoy!
Strawberry Soup(ish)
serves five

2 pints strawberries
2 cups plain yogurt   I used vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
I replaced the cardamom with ground ginger

In a blender, combine the strawberries, yogurt, orange juice, sugar, water and cardamom. Puree until well mixed. Chill and serve.

Really disappointed that this wasn't more soup like... I'm going to have to do another recipe for this challenge.  I've got a bunch of basil growing, wonder what I can come up!
Vivian lets try these

Pesto Reprised

I know that pesto is nothing new to this blog, but I am excited that I can finally participate again so I'm posting it anyway! My recipe, and I use the term loosely, is similar to the one werrik posted previously, but I doubled everything except the lemon. Oh, and the previous recipe makes no mention of olive oil, which I'm guessing I added close to a quarter cup. I tossed it all with some sauteed julienned fennel and sliced zucchini from the garden, some diced tomatoes (not from our garden...yet), and rotini. My kids LOVE pesto so this was a big hit as always. The baby even got in on the action, though I hesitated a little due to the pine nuts. But he is #3, and you tend to make a lot of exceptions to the rules by #3.

I plan on using some of the remaining pesto for grilled pizzas later this week.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Zucchini Penne

Ok, so I'll have to update later with a better picture (when I make it again). I realized right after finishing supper tonight that what I made fell in line with this month's challenge, so the picture is of the very little bit that we have left over.

I put a pot of whole wheat penne pasta on to boil. I took two zucchini from my garden, sliced them into half-moons, and then sauteed them in some extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, and ground ginger. I took one of my roma tomatoes from my garden and diced it. (Side note--I have the same love/hate thing going on with tomatoes as Kerri, and for the same reasons!)

I drained the pasta, added the zucchini and tomatoe, and then added a little more EVOO, ginger, and garlic. Viola! My munchkin LOVED it (had two full kid bowls of it) and I liked it well enough to fix it again later when the next zucchini comes out of the garden.

I think the next time I fix this we'll probably have some grilled chicken or something of the sort to accompany it.

Quick roasted cherry tomatoes and spaghetti


Saw this recipe in the June issue of Cooking Light. I always gets lots of good stuff in the June issue and again, I do have a thing for those cherry tomatoes. Unfortuately, even those my cherry tomato plant is really putting out, it isn't doing so in the amounts called for in this recipe (2 pints). I bought those at a local farmers market.

It turned out really good. Mark was really excited about it, although he did pick out his tomatoes. He really does not like the little ones. I would make this again, but only if I had 2 pints of tomatoes around, and how often does that happen.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My love hate relationship with tomatoes

I have a confession to make. I didn't always like tomatoes. Perhaps "didn't like" is misleading. I believe tomatoes were on my list of 4 top loathed foods. (this list also includes ham, Dr. Pepper, and bannanas) The thing is I remember not liking tomatoes. I remember not liking them in my mouth. I was an extremely picky eater, but for me in was a texture thing. I just hated the texture of most vegetables. My family had little patience with me and probably wanted to disown me for not believing in "true love and homegrown tomatoes". Lucky for me, my sister got a gas grill and that brough me back up. As I grew up, my tastes really did change and although I still have texture issues, it really isn't as bad. It was a great surprise to everyone including myself when I started growing tomatoes. When you do that, you have to find a use for them. Well, I started using some cherry/grape tomatoes in certain salads. By doing this I discover one of the best salad combinations. Are you ready for it? Here it is: lettuce, red onions, cherry/grape tomatoes, and some sort of blue cheese dressing.


Clemson is known for its blue cheese and have their own dressing. Unfortuately, it is kind of pricey. I make my own: combine blue cheese cumbles, sour cream, green onions, salt, and pepper, and then add white wine vinegar/and or water to desired consistancy.

Oh, I forgot a major crackers. You have to have the club crackers.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yellow Peppers and Zucchini - Peruvian Beef Kabobs with Grilled Zucchini

We had some ultra ripe yellow peppers from our farm box, so I remembered this recipe that I've made before. I didn't make the Fiery Rub this time, as I wanted to keep it mild in hopes that the kids would eat it. One kid loved it, the other spit it out. Such is feeding small children, right?

I served it with grilled summer squash - some sort of small pumpkin shaped zucchini that tasted just like zucchini.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Choose Your Own Adventure Pizza

I really, really love summer tomatoes with basil. Along with watermelon, it's the quintessential summer produce for me.

We did a pizza and movie night and I decided to make my portion of the pizza Margharita style. I always use this dough and form it into two pizzas. One I made plain cheese for the kids and one I make half and half for the husband and I. He eats less cheese and more meat, so we are able to tailor the pizza to our liking.

My side: Olive Oil, Sliced Fresh Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Parmesan and a bit of Feta. After baking I sprinkled on some basil - about the only thing I'm able to grow in a pot this year.

Husband: Tomato Sauce, Farm Share Bell Peppers, Chicken Apple Sausage and Mozzarella.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Orzo salad


I don't get a lot of sun, so I do container gardening. This really limits me to tomatoes and herbs, but right now I am ok with that. Right now my grape tomatoes are putting out big time. I used some of those tomatoes plus mint and basil to make this salad from Everyday Italian. This is a really great salad with lots of different stuff in it. I'll admidt, this last time I did my lazy version of it, but it was still great. Can't wait for leftovers. I served it with some great corn on the cob and grilled chicken with basil dressing from the same episode (also lazy version).


Saturday, July 3, 2010

July challenge - Farmers Market

I think I have mentioned this before, but for July our challenge is any fresh inseason fruit, vegtable, or whatever! Happy cooking!

four cheese pizza

Think back to the pizza challenge. I had two recipes on deck that I never got to make. One I actually had purchased all the ingredients for, but didn't make it until the next month. I did make this in June, and am only getting to post it now.


This recipe was in a recent issue of cooking light that focused on pizza. I did not make the dough that was listed, and intead used my old standby in my bread machine. You do have to buy some different sorts of cheeses, but they stayed good in my frige and I was able to get three pizzas out of them. I did not use taleggio and still have no idea what it is, but instead used a swiss. This is an easy, yet impressive pizza. My dad said it was one of the best he had eaten! He might have been talking about the plain old pepperoni one though...

(this isn't a good picture - sorry!)