because what is life without good food?

Condiments

Fire-Roasted Salsa Sisters

Fire Roasted Salsa Sisters

I’ve had some really good salsas lately that were fire roasted, so I decided to try making some. The key to making a fire roasted salsa is to roast the vegetables on the grill. The “fire” from the grill gives the salsa a delectable smoky flavor. (Okay, it’s really smoke from the coals that adds the smoky flavor, not fire, but “smoke roasted salsa” just doesn’t have the right ring to it …)

It’s very simple to do, really, but it makes for such a delightful-tasting salsa. So the next time you fire up the grill, I suggest tossing some peppers, tomatoes and onions on there and make up a fire roasted salsa. It’s the perfect healthy, delicious condiment to go with a good quesadilla (like this chipotle black bean quesadilla with avocado cream I made the other day), tacos, eggs, and so much more … I really love a good salsa and always have some homemade salsa in my fridge. This fire roasted salsa has totally won my heart. Strangely, it’s the simpler red one that I love the most, although the hearty Adobo salsa with cilantro and white beans is also lovely in its own chunky way. They each have their own personality, so to speak, just like sisters.

Fire Roasted Salsas: Two Variations

Rojo Fuego Salsa (Red Fire Salsa)

For this salsa, I peeled the tomatoes and peppers after grilling them, resulting in a brilliant fire-red colored salsa.

  • 4 whole hot chili peppers (use more or less depending on how hot your peppers are and how hot you like your salsa. Mine were super-hot and a brilliant red color!)
  • 4 large garden fresh tomatoes
  • 1 onion, cut in fourths (skin on!)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Heat up the grill and put the chili peppers, tomatoes, and onion directly over the heat to roast. Turn as they cook so all sides are roasted. The skins on the peppers should turn black and charred on all sides, the tomatoes should be soft with the skins cracked, and the onion should be lightly brown.
  2. Once they are cooked on all sides, remove from the grill and let the vegies cool off until they are cool enough to touch. Pull the skins off the tomato and peppers and onion and discard the skins.
  3. Put the peeled vegies into a blender or food processor and pulse till everything is very finely chopped and mixed well. If you want a smoother salsa, puree in the blender/food processor to your liking. Store in a covered container in the fridge.

Rojo Fuego Salsa (Red Fire Salsa)

Adobo Fuego Salsa (Adobo Fire Salsa)

When I made this salsa, I didn’t peel the peppers after roasting. The charred bits of skin add a bit of extra smoky flavor to the salsa.

  • 2 large garden tomatoes
  • 2 – 7 jalapeno peppers (adjust the number of peppers for how hot you want your salsa … if you want a very mild salsa, use bell pepper in place of the jalapeno)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 -3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup cooked white beans
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon adobo seasoning
  • A few sprigs of cilantro (just the leaves, not the stems)

Directions:

  1. Heat up the grill and put the jalapenos, onion and tomato directly over the heat to roast. Turn as they cook so all sides are roasted. The skins on the peppers should turn black and charred on all sides, the tomatoes should be soft with the skins cracked, and the onion should be lightly brown.
  2. Once they are cooked on all sides, remove from the grill. Do NOT peel the peppers, but do pull the peel off the tomato and onion.
  3. Put the tomato, jalapeno, and onion into a blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients and pulse till everything is very finely chopped and mixed well. Store in a covered container in the fridge.

Copioso Fuego Salsa (Hearty Fire Salsa)

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous FridaysFriday Food Fight, and Scrumptious Sunday.


Pesto Rosso

Pesto Rosso

When Sonali at The Foodie Physician posted this Pesto Rosso, I was immediately taken with it. Suddenly I wanted nothing but to make her lovely red pesto. With all the fresh garden tomatoes in my kitchen at the time, I couldn’t bring myself to go buy sundried tomatoes to make this, so I decided to try oven-drying some of them. It worked! I got some really lovely oven-dried tomatoes out of it. I didn’t pack them in oil, though. I just stuck them in a bag and put them in the fridge. They softened up a bit in the fridge, but much to my joy, they had the same lovely sundried tomato taste. So I used them in the pesto rosso and it turned out just as wonderful as I had imagined.

If you want to try oven-drying your tomatoes, here is the post from Love the secret ingredient on how to “sun” dry your tomatoes in the oven. She says it takes 5-6 hours, but it took my tomatoes about 9 hours to dry. I think it really depends on your oven.

Here are some suggestions from Sonali at The Foodie Physician on how to use this marvelous tomato-based pesto:

  • Mix with a little pasta water and toss with hot pasta. Top with shredded Parmesan. Instant dinner!
  • Spread it on hot or cold sandwiches- anything from turkey sandwiches to grilled cheese
  • Top grilled chicken breasts, fish or other meats with it
  • Mix it with a little ricotta or goat cheese and use it as a stuffing for chicken breasts or pork chops (or lasagna!)
  • Add flavor to vegetarian or egg dishes- try stirring a spoonful into sautéed vegetables or a frittata
  • Mix it with Greek yogurt to make a healthy dip for vegetables or chips
  • Spread it on garlic bread for an extra hit of flavor
  • Use it onto homemade pizza dough as an alternative to tomato sauce
  • Spread it on toasted country bread and top it off with some arugula and shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano for a healthy snack (actually, it’s great on bread all by itself!)

I think it would also be marvelous to stir a spoonful or two into an Italian soup, or use a spoonful as a beautiful & tasty garnish on top of a thick, creamy soup.

Pesto Rosso

Pesto Rosso

Adapted only very slightly from The Foodie Physician. Makes about 1 1/3 cups pesto or 8 servings.
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 – 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Several fresh basil leaves
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 5 ounces small tomatoes (cherry or grape would work well … I had some tiny romas from mom’s garden that seemed perfect)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese (Sonali recommends Parmigiano Reggiano, but I had Asiago on hand …)

Directions:

  1. Place the almonds, sundried tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, and herbs in a handi chopper or food processor. Pulse several times until everything is finely chopped.
  2. Add the balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, and olive oil and process until the tomatoes are finely chopped. (Sonali says to add the olive oil in a steady stream while the processor is on … my handi chopper doesn’t allow for that.)
  3. Add the cheese and pulse just a couple times to mix it in fully.

Pesto Rosso

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayLifeologia’s Birthday Party Potluck and All my Bloggy Friends.


Fairy Tale Purple Pesto

Purple Pesto

My mother grows both green and purple basil every year. This year she gave me a purple basil plant. Mine grew to about 6 inches tall, enough to snip off a couple leaves or sprigs here and there to season a dish. Her basil plant grew to the size of a bush.

If you don’t trim basil plants, they will go to seed and die, having finished their purpose in life. If you trim them, they grow bigger. I went out to trim Mom’s basil plants for her and came in with quite enough basil to make pesto. So I put it in a bag, stuck it in my cooler, brought it home and decided to make purple pesto.

In my box of goodies from the garden, I also had some of these pretty purple Fairy tale eggplant, and since it IS purple, I thought that would be lovely in the pesto. As I was blending up the pesto, it was a bit too thick, so I was looking for a liquid to thin it so that I didn’t have to add too much oil (I want my pesto to be lower in fat too!) and wouldn’t ruin the color. It just so happens I had a bottle of red wine sitting there, so I added a bit of wine too.

I’m freezing my purple pesto for safe keeping. I have plans in my mind to make purple pizzas and purple pasta, purple pesto salad dressings and purple pesto potatoes.

Have I mentioned that my favorite color is purple?

Fairy tale Purple Pesto

Purple Pesto

  • 6 cups of purple basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup pinons (pine nuts)
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 small fairy tale eggplant, roasted (or 1/2 cup of a larger eggplant)
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine

Slice the eggplant lengthwise, set it on a baking sheet and roast it in the oven (or toaster oven) at 350 for about 10 minutes or until it’s tender. Cut it up into chunks and measure it. You should have about 1/2 cup of eggplant.

In a blender or food processor, blend up all the ingredients until you have a fine puree. Whatever you are not going to use immediately, freeze in small containers or ice cube trays.

Use this purple pesto just like you would any other pesto: mix with some pasta water and toss with pasta, spread it on pizza or sandwiches or little toasts.

Fairy Tale Purple Pesto

This recipe was shared at Talent Show Tuesday and Cast Party Wednesday.


Spicy Hot Tomato Tamatillo Jam

Spicy Hot Tomato Tamatillo Jam

My yoga friend brought me a little bag of tamatillos from her garden, but they weren’t that intense tart green like you think of when you see tamatillos–several of them had turned a light yellow color. She mentioned to me that she had cooked hers down and they were really sweet. That made me think of this tomato jam that Melissa over at ChinDeep had posted. In just an instant, I knew what I was going to do with the tamatillos.

I thought about making tamatillo jam, but I only had a few tamatillos and I have a huge box full of tomatoes from my Mom’s garden … so the tomatoes and tamatillos partied together in this spicy sweet jam. It’s a unique condiment … sort of almost like ketchup, but sweeter and spicier. Melissa suggests lots of wonderful ways to use it:

“Slather some on a toasted garlic bagel with cream cheese, dip your french fries in it, spread it on a thick slice of sourdough bread and top with gooey soft boiled eggs, place a little dish of it next to a cheese and cracker tray, use it as a sandwich topping with ham or turkey and fried onions, use it as a glaze for fish, chicken or pork. Top rosemary scones with a bit of chevre, tomato jam and crumbled bacon for a standing ovation.”

The only way I’ve tried this jam so far is on crackers with some cream cheese. That was wonderful. I have so many more things yet to try …

Spicy Hot Tomato Tamatillo Jam

Spicy Hot Tomato Tamatillo Jam

This is a cross between two of Melissa’s recipes: tomato jam and spicy summer garden jam. I did cut the amount of sugar considerably because the tamatillos really were quite sweet, and the tomatoes were too.

  • 7 tomatillos (about 0.425 lb), outer shell and the stem core removed, then chopped
  • 6 medium tomatoes, peeled and cored (about 1.7 lb after they are peeled and cored), then chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3 jalapenos, chopped fine (use more or less depending on how spicy hot you want your jam)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or more, depending on how sweet your tomatoes and tamatillos are … )
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Chop the tomatoes and tamatillos and put them in a saucepan.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently until the jam is thickened to your liking. I cooked it for about an hour and by then it was plenty thick.
  3. I pureed about 1/3 of the jam in the blender, then stirred it back into the jam. Store in a covered container in the fridge. Melissa tells me it will keep in the fridge for two weeks.

Spicy Hot Tomato Tamatillo Jam

This recipe was shared at Cast Party Wednesday, Tastetastic Thursday, Fit & Fabulous Friday and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Crock Pot Garden Marinara Sauce

Garden Marinara Sauce in the Crockpot

I am guest posting over at Stacy Makes Cents! Stacy contacted me back in June to ask if I would do a guest post for her in August … something made in the crockpot. The only things she asked were:

  • Not a recipe already on the site
  • Submitted a week in advance of your date
  • Only use whole food ingredients

I thought that’s no sweat! I can totally handle that … Well, time went by and the date she had given me as a deadline came and went and I hadn’t sent her anything. You know how life gets so busy … this guest post completely slipped my mind! So I totally failed on the “submitted a week in advance” part, but I did make a new recipe with whole foods!

So head on over to Stacy’s blog for the recipe.

Garden Marinara Sauce made in the Slow Cooker

This recipe was shared at Weekend Potluck and Manic Monday.


#Tomatolove: Sundried Tomato Ranch Dressing

Sundried Tomato Ranch Salad Dressing

After making Melissa’s Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette, I still had a few sundried tomatoes left and I thought perhaps I should try throwing them in some ranch dressing too? Yep, it works. Tastes mighty fine. The sundried tomatoes do make it thicker, so if you want a drizzle for your salad, you’ll need to thin it out a bit.

Sundried Tomato Buttermilk Ranch Salad Dressing (or Dip)

  • 1/3 c. light mayonnaise
  • 2/3 to 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. nonfat greek yogurt
  • 3 heaping tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 2-3 big fresh cloves of garlic
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Several fresh parsley leaves or ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • A few fresh dill twigs or ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 green onions (tops only)

Whir all the ingredients in a handy chopper or food processor until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add more buttermilk as needed to get the dressing to the desired consistency. Mine was pretty thick, but I was using it for a pasta salad so that was just perfect.

Use for pasta or potato salad, on green salads or as a dip with vegies. Store in a covered container in the fridge.

Sundried Tomato Ranch Dressing (or Dip)

This is a post for #tomatolove.

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This recipe was also shared at Summer Salad SundayScrumptious Sundays, Weekend PotluckManic MondayTip Junkie, Cast Party Wednesday and EveryDay Mom’s Meals


No-cook Strawberry Chia Jam {a Berrylicious Post}

No-Cook Strawberry Chia Jam

I found this recipe on the blog Eating Bird Food and I was so intrigued by it. Could you really make jam without cooking, with no pectin and no sugar? Yes, you can! The chia seeds work so well as a thickener and they don’t need to be cooked at all; they just start thickening as soon as you add the liquid. And if you’re intimidated by making jam or canning it, you can skip all of that with this super simple jam!

If you’re not familiar with chia seeds, here’s a little background I found on Eating Bird Food:

“Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico. You may have seen chia sprouts growing on the novelty planters called Chia Pets, but historically, the seeds have been the most important part of the plant. In pre-Columbian times they were a main component of the Aztec and Mayan diets and were the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors. I’ve read that one tablespoon was believed to sustain an individual for 24 hours. The Aztecs also used chia medicinally to stimulate saliva flow and to relieve joint pain and sore skin.” – Quoted from Dr.Weil

Chia seeds are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acid (the good kind of fat), protein, antioxidants, fiber, potassium and magnesium. 1 Tablespoon of dry seeds have about 60 calories, 5 g of Fat, 6 g of Carbohydrate, 6 g of Fiber, and 3 g of Protein. They do add a little crunch to the things you put them in, but with strawberry jam, you normally expect a little crunch from the berry seeds, so the crunch from the chia seeds isn’t even noticeable. (Not that it’s a bad thing anyway, I really love the tiny crunch of chia seeds in everything I’ve tried them in so far!)

No cooking, no canning Strawberry Chia Jam

No-cook Strawberry Chia Jam

  • 1 cup strawberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Honey, to taste (or other sweetener, like stevia … I used 3 teaspoons honey)

Directions:

  1. If you are using frozen strawberries, let them thaw. Mash the strawberries with a fork or blend them. If you are using fresh berries like I did, unless they’ve gotten very ripe and mushy, you will probably have to blend them because they don’t mash very well.
  2. Mix in the chia seeds, vanilla, water and honey (or other sweetener). Use the honey or sweetener to suit your own taste. I found just 3 teaspoons of honey gave it just a light sweetness and it let the fresh strawberry taste shine through, but it definitely isn’t as sweet as your typical jam.
  3. Cover the jam and put it in the fridge for at least 30-60 minutes to thicken.

That’s it! Your jam is ready to use once it has thickened up. Keep it in the fridge in a covered container and use it just like you would any other jam.

I created this post for Berrylicious. Look at these other lovely berrylicious posts!

Berrylicious Recipes

  1. Joan, Chocolate Chocolate and More – Lemon Blueberry Pound cake
  2. Charity, Foodlets – Strawberry – Banana Popsicles
  3. Jamie, Green Beans & Grapefruit – Mixed Berry & Cookie Butter Clafouti
  4. Hani, Haniela’s – Red Currant Meringue Cake
  5. Katrina, In Katrina’s Kitchen – Frozen Blueberry Basil Lemonade Pies
  6. Sue, Munchkin Munchies – English Matrimonials
  7. Bia, Rich and Sweet – Blueberry Blackberry Orange Streusel Scones
  8. Sam, Sams Kitchen – Eton Mess Mini Cheesecakes
  9. Sherron, Simply Gourmet Photography – Mulberry Syrup
  10. Ann, Sumptuous Spoonfuls –  Strawberry Chia Jam
  11. Karen, Trilogy Edibles – Meringue Nest with a Bumbleberry Compote

This recipe was also shared at I’m Lovin’ It and Weekend Potluck.


Asparagus White Bean Pesto

Asparagus White Bean Pesto

I love pesto. Love love love love it! And Asparagus! Oh I can’t wait for spring every year so I can have asparagus … so last week I ran across this intriguing idea for Kale, Apsaragus & Chickpea pesto from Munchin with Munchkin and I just couldn’t put it down. Asparagus in pesto? and beans? … what a concept …

My pesto isn’t really very much like hers. I mean, I really couldn’t abandon my beloved basil. Or the parmesan … oh please, no, I must have my cheese! And while I love olive oil, I thought if you added asparagus and white beans, well, that would eliminate the need for having so much oil in the pesto. You could reduce the oil and still have a wonderful flavor that would stick to your pasta.

And what do you know? It worked! Beautifully. So get this: in one fell swoop, I upped the nutrition, protein, fiber, AND the flavor and lowered the fat and calories in the pesto. It’s such a wonderful thing! It’s sort of like a cross between pesto and hummus. Not only does it go well on pasta, it’s a great dip, a fantastic spread for a sandwich or wrap … or, um, well anything you could think of that you might do with pesto OR hummus.

Now how about them beans?

Asparagus White Bean Pesto

Asparagus White Bean Pesto

  • 1 cup raw asparagus, chopped (I used the stem ends of the asparagus, saving the “pretty top parts” for later …)
  • 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan
  • 1 cup cooked white beans, drained (save the juice though!)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup pinons
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

Place all ingredients in a handi chopper or food processor and blend till smooth. If you need a little more liquid to get everything to blend nicely, add a bit of the liquid from the beans.

Asparagus White Bean Pesto

This recipe was shared at Mealtime MondayTuesday Talent ShowTotally Tasty Tuesdays, Cast Party Wednesdays, Tastetastic Thursdays, and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


Ginger Rhubarb Sauce

Ginger Rhubarb Sauce

I picked a big bunch of rhubarb when I went to visit my mom on Mother’s Day. She has these two huge rhubarb plants that always yield way more than you could ever eat. You can eat rhubarb to your heart’s content and still have more. The funny thing is even as much as I took, it didn’t even begin to thin out the plants.

Anyway, I decided yesterday I was going to cook my rhubarb … I chopped it ALL up and put it in a BIG bowl, looked on the Internet for some ideas, and then I started playing … the first thing I made was Royal Rhubarb Crisp, my very favorite thing that Mom used to make for us when we were kids. Then I made this sauce with intent to turn it into a rhubarb slushie, but my experiments went a different direction. This is a really versatile sauce … You can eat it like applesauce or use it in baking or make a glaze for a cake with it …  you can even put it in salad dressing! It’s not very sweet, though, so if you want it sweeter, add some sugar or honey or agave or whatever sweetness you use in your kitchen. I may try making a cocktail with it too … we’ll see if there’s any left for that!

Rhubarb from Mom's Garden

Ginger Rhubarb Sauce

  • 3 cups rhubarb
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 5 thin slices fresh ginger root
  • 1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 10 – 15 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender. Pull out the ginger slices. Puree the sauce in a blender (or just use it as is). I blended mine up till smooth.


Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing (Low Sodium Option)

Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing with Low Sodium Option

I found some lovely ripe avocados at the store today and it just occurred to me that avocado would be delicious in a Ranch Salad Dressing. Maybe I live in a hole, but why haven’t I ever seen that before?

Before today, that is. Because here it is! Tada! Super quick, super healthy, super delicious, and if you have someone who is watching their sodium, then just leave out the salt! It’s still fantabulous.

Lowfat Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing with Low Sodium Option

Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing with Low Sodium Option

To reduce sodium: If you leave out the salt altogether, this salad dressing has 75 mg of sodium per 2 Tablespoons; with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, this dressing has 149 mg sodium. I did a quick check and store-brand ranch dressings have sodium content ranging from 200 to 500 mg in 2 Tablespoons of dressing.

Makes about 1 cup of dressing (8 servings/2 Tablespoons per serving)

  • 1/3 c. light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 c. 1% milk
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • About 1/2 a handful of fresh basil leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Several fresh parsley leaves or ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • A few fresh dill twigs or ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Several chives
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary leaves
  • 3 green onions (tops only)
  • 1/4 of a ripe avocado (you could probably even add more avocado if you want …)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (Leave out the salt altogether if you want less sodium … I made sure to taste it before I added salt, and it was delicious.)
  • 1/3 c. nonfat greek yogurt

Whir all the ingredients except the yogurt in a handy chopper or food processor until smooth. Stir in the yogurt. Adjust seasonings to taste. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the fridge.

Lowfat Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing with Low Sodium Option

This recipe was shared at Newlyweds Recipe Linky and Full Plate Thursdays.


Low Sodium Red Magic Seasoning

Red Magic Seasoning

I am on a quest for low sodium, but delicious food lately. Food that will appeal to a teenager. I never never never thought I would have to worry much about sodium … my blood pressure is low. My kids, well they’re kids! You don’t have to worry about salt too much with kids, right?

But you see, my daughter (who is ALMOST a teenager) has been having dizzy spells. It started last fall … she missed two weeks of school. I was terribly worried about her, took her to the doctor, had tons of tests done. At the end they couldn’t find anything wrong with her and this is what they said, “she needs to drink more water.”

So we had her drink more water. But the dizzy spells continued. They would come and go. Sometimes she would be fine, but they got to be so bad last month that she couldn’t dance and sometimes they would go on for a whole week. If you knew my girl, you would know she lives to dance. She has been dancing since she was able to stand on two feet, I believe. When she was 3 I enrolled her in dance classes and she has been dancing ever since. Since she’s gotten older, our lives have started revolving around her dance.

But dizzy spells in a dancer are a very very bad thing. And she was SO miserable! I did some research into the symptoms she is having and one of the things that may help is to lower her sodium intake to 1,000 mg/day. When you look at how much sodium is in salt and so many of the foods that we eat, 1,000 mg is REALLY HARD.

I have used a lot of Red Robin Seasoning in our food so she is used to that flavoring. I thought I would try to make something similar to that one, with a lot less salt. The real magic in it this is … I think I like it better than the original Red Robin Seasoning! Red Robin Seasoning is loaded with salt, while this one is loaded with flavor. My girl loves it. I can season salmon or chicken with this and she is happy! She will eat it! I’m even sprinkling it on some of my own food now …

Low Sodium Red Magic Seasoning

Low Sodium Red Magic Seasoning

I found the tomato powder at our local coop food store. It’s basically just dried tomato, ground into a powder. I was looking for low-sodium tomato soup mix, but all I found was tomato powder, which I think is so sooo much better. And if you can’t find it, I think all you’d have to do is put some sundried tomatoes through a spice grinder to make a fine powder.

  • 6 Tablespoons tomato powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Lite Salt (or 1/2 Tablespoon sea salt)
  • 5 Tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons onion powder

Mix all ingredients together into a bowl. Funnel into a spice jar. Use to flavor chicken, meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, popcorn … whatever you normally would use salt on.

Low Sodium Red Magic Seasoning

This recipe was shared at Weekend PotluckTalent Show TuesdayA Crafty Cook’s April Link PartyMelt in your Mouth Mondays, and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


Super Simple Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce

Super Simple Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce

I went looking for an easy Thai Peanut Sauce recipe last night because I’m enthralled with Thai food and I wanted to make Thai Chicken Pizza, but I can never find all the ingredients that authentic Thai recipes seem to require. I couldn’t believe my luck! If you can find fish sauce and Thai-style curry paste, you can make this.

I didn’t follow her recipe very well though, I’m afraid. I just read her recipe, then made it up as I went. The sauce turned out so good, I was using my finger to wipe up every last drop from the bowl. And then I was dreaming of other things I could make with it last night. You do that too, right? Dream about food? Please tell me I’m not completely insane …

Super Simple Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce

Adapted from She Simmers

  • 1/2 of a 15-oz. can of light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons red or green Thai-style curry paste (I had some green open, so I used green, but red would probably be better …)
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or Sriracha (optional … I just wanted my sauce to have a little extra zing)

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, whisk all the ingredients together. Simmer for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring frequently to keep it from sticking on the bottom of the pan.

Super Simple Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce

Use it as a dipping sauce for shrimp or other little bites, or as a funky pizza sauce for a thai-style pizza … or drizzle it over a sandwich or salad. I’m planning to do all of those things … I probably should have made a bigger batch.

This recipe was shared at Real Housewives Recipe RoundupSouth Asian BlogHop, and Katherine Martinelli’s Coconut Bloghop.

Ann at The Fountain Avenue Kitchen tried this recipe … go see her version too.


Citruslove: Candied Kumquats & Kumquat Syrup

Candied Kumquats & Kumquat Syrup

For my birthday, my sweet aunt who lives in Florida, sent me a bunch of kumquats from her kumquat tree. Kumquats are something of a new experience for me … the first time I ever tasted them was at Christmas, at my parents’ house, and of course they were a bunch of kumquats from the same tree. I was so excited to have my very own box of kumquats to play with!

The rind of a kumquat is lightly sweet and the center is sour, so they are often eaten whole. I am not sure my palate could handle that kind of intensity, but I found I really love the sour-sweet taste of the juice in salad dressing and also thin slices of kumquat on a salad are quite welcome. Kumquats add a little citrus zing that almost tickles your tongue. They are small and a lovely orange-yellow in color.

Kumquats

When they arrived, a few of the kumquats were beginning to rot on one end, so I knew I had to do SOMETHING fast! Katherine Martinelli came to my rescue, graciously sharing some of her favorite kumquat recipes. This one was clearly the one to rectify my situation and save the precious half-kumquats. I’m not sure exactly how many of them I used in the recipe as they were parts of several kumquats, but the method worked beautifully. Thank you so much, Katherine.

Candied Kumquats & Kumquat Syrup

Recipe from Katherine Martinelli. I think the syrup would be wonderful over french toast or pancakes … or even for adding a tangy sweet taste to mixed drinks.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 cups simple syrup* (I used 1 cup water, 2 cups sugar)
  • About 15 kumquats, sliced or chopped

Directions:

  • Put the kumquats and simple syrup in a small pot over medium heat.
  • Bring to a boil then reduce the heat; simmer for 10 – 25 minutes, stirring often.
  • The kumquats are done when the syrup is slightly thickened and sticks to the fruit. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the kumquats to a clean glass jar.
  • Spoon a few tablespoons of simple syrup on top. Transfer the remaining syrup to another glass jar. Allow both to cool before sealing and refrigerating.

* To make simple syrup combine 1 part each water and sugar in a pot and simmer until the sugar is dissolved.

Candied Kumquats

This recipe was shared at Citruslove, Totally Tasty Tuesdays,  Midweek Fiesta and Tastetastic Thursdays.

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Creamy Lowfat Blue Cheese Salad Dressing

Creamy Lowfat Blue Cheese Salad Dressing

Do you like blue cheese? I think it’s one of those things you either love or hate. If you don’t, then skip this post. I’m sure there’s something else here that’ll catch your fancy.

Me, I love blue cheese. When I’m at a restaurant and they ask me what kind of dressing I want on my salad, I always say “Blue Cheese on the Side.” When I’m at home, I change up the dressings a lot and experiment with different flavors, but when I’m out, I want blue cheese. If I’m lucky it’s one that they make fresh at the restaurant that has real hunks of blue cheese in it.

You can whip up an awesome low-fat dressing in just a few minutes that will taste SOOoooo much better than the store-bought stuff — and it will be a heck of a lot healthier for you. Oh, and it costs a lot less than those bottled dressings that have all the nasty chemical preservatives in them. Have you ever read the labels on one of those bottles?

Trust me on this one, it’s SO much better to make your own. You’ll feel like a rock star when you serve your salad with homemade blue cheese dressing.

Creamy Lowfat Blue Cheese Salad Dressing

Creamy Low-fat Blue Cheese Salad Dressing

Adapted from Eating Well

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk, or nonfat milk — I used fat free half and half, but I think buttermilk would be better
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar, red wine vinegar or white vinegar (I used 1 T. red wine & 1 T. white)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon pesto (optional)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, (1 ounce)

Directions:

  1. Whisk together all ingredients except the blue cheese until smooth.
  2. Stir in the blue cheese. I like to leave it chunky, but if you want, you can mash the blue cheese with your spoon to blend it into your dressing more.

Here it is on the Pear Salad with Blue Cheese and Sweet Spicy Nuts:

Pear Salad with Creamy Lowfat Blue Cheese Dressing


Spicy Corn & Black Bean Salsa

Spicy Corn & Black Bean Salsa

I have a lot of fresh corn still and have already frozen plenty for the year. I really love hot, spicy salsas and I thought it would be fun to try a corn salsa. I just tinkered with it till I came up with a flavor combination that worked.

This works. The jalapenos give it a great bite. The sweetness of the corn balances with the hearty black beans, then the onion, garlic, peppers, cumin and cilantro round out the taste. It’s all the freshness and kick of summer in one little spicy bowl.

This might just be my new go-to summer salsa.

Spicy Corn & Black Bean Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. corn (about 3 cobs)
  • 1 – 3 jalapenos (I used 3, but I like it really spicy-adjust to your heat tolerance!), finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3  – 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 c. black beans
  • 2 c. chopped tomato
  • A bunch of fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 t. Red Robin seasoning (or seasoned salt)
  • 1/2 t. salt

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Let sit for an hour or so to let the flavors blend. Keep any leftover salsa in the fridge.

It’s great with chips.

Spicy Corn & Black Bean Salsa

Or you can use it to transform an egg and tortilla into a lovely breakfast burrito.

Breakfast Burrito with Corn & Black Bean Salsa

This recipe was shared at Recipe of the Week: Superbowl Snacks.


A Peach & Chicken Salad with Oriental Vinaigrette

Peach & Chicken Salad

The other day I needed a quick meal so I tossed together some things I found in the fridge to make a quick salad and it turned out SO delicious that I have to share it. In case you haven’t noticed, goat cheese and pinons (pine nuts) have become essential ingredients in my house. They add a touch of elegance and a funky taste to so many different kinds of dishes!

Peach & Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

  • Mixed greens
  • 1 peach, pit removed, sliced and cut into chunks
  • 1 chicken patty chopped into chunks. I used a breaded chicken patty left over, but you could use a grilled chicken breast or any cooked chicken meat. This is a great way to use leftover chicken!
  • Vidalia or red onion slices
  • Goat cheese crumbles
  • Pine nuts, toasted
  • Oriental vinaigrette (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Fill your salad bowl about 2/3 – 3/4 full with mixed greens.
  2. Toss on the other ingredients.
  3. Drizzle with oriental dressing

Oriental vinaigrette salad dressing

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1/2 c. rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped fine OR 1/4 t. granulated garlic
  • 1/2 t. ground ginger
  • About 10 drops of sesame oil
  • 1 T. canola oil
  • 1 T. fish sauce
  • 1 T. chinese mustard

Directions:

  1. Pour all ingredients into a bottle and shake well to blend the flavors. Refrigerate.
Peach & Chicken Salad with Oriental Dressing

Not My Grandmother’s Watermelon Pickles

I have very fond memories of my grandmother’s food and garden. As a child, it was always fun to go out to Gram’s  farm in the summer and wander in her huge garden. She had rows and rows of gladiolas and a variety of berries and vegetables. Her house was full of sunshine, quilts, afghans and butterflies. She always had apples pies in the freezer. The homemade bread she made was sooo good — and there was always this amazing thick sweet brilliant red raspberry jam to put on them.

Not my grandmother's gladiola either ...

The other thing I remember was her watermelon pickles. Whenever we had watermelon, she always told us not to eat all the pink part off.  That was for the pickles. There were always pickles at every family get together I can ever remember … in little segmented glass dishes with olives on one side and pickles on the other. I really am not a pickle person; I don’t in general even like pickles very much. Except my grandmother’s watermelon pickles. Those I cherished. Anticipated. Reveled in.

The other day my daughter and I polished off half a watermelon between the two of us. I looked at the pile of watermelon rind (surprisingly thick–you don’t see rind that thick hardly ever anymore!) and decided I just had to make pickles.

Several years ago I asked my gramma for her watermelon pickle recipe. She said she didn’t remember … but a friend of mine had shared her recipe … but then I wanted to put my own twist on them … hmmm. How about watermelon jalapeno pickles? That spicy sweet taste in a pickle? Oh yeah!

Jalapeno Watermelon Pickles

They didn’t turn out as spicy as I really wanted. I think my jalapenos must be mild. One jalapeno should put these pickles on fire. Maybe next time I’ll add some other peppers? But still they have a tiny little kick to them. I didn’t follow my friend’s recipe exactly … cut down the sugar (as I always do), and made a smaller batch.

My blog has moved to http://www.sumptuousspoonfuls.com

The style is exactly the same, but it is a new URL, so please go here for the recipe.

 

Watermelon Jalapeno Pickles

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