because what is life without good food?

Posts tagged “Garlic

Great Northern Pumpkin, Kale & Sausage Stew

Great Northern Pumpkin, Kale & Sausage Stew

I made a delicious stew the other day with pumpkin, kale, Great Northern beans, and chicken sausage.

It’s a bowl full of comfort and goodness.

Head over to my blog’s new home for the recipe.


Crab Artichoke Dip with Asiago & Bacon

Crab Artichoke Dip with Asiago & Bacon ~ www.SumptuousSpoonfuls.com

My latest creation … please go over to my blog’s new “home” www.SumptuousSpoonfuls.com for the recipe!


Shrimp & Tomato Bisque

Shrimp & Tomato Bisque

My girlfriends were coming for the weekend so I wanted to make them something super delicious … it was chillier than we expected it to be this weekend, so I decided a nice pot of hot soup would be just the thing.

It did happen just perfectly … two of my friends were staying in a camper and when they showed up at my house on Saturday, it was just about lunchtime plus they were quite chilled and hungry so the soup warmed them right up and filled our bellies before we went out to see the sights. I was so happy because they all raved about the soup and the two who don’t like things too hot & spicy said it was just right. Whew!

Shrimp & Tomato Bisque

Shrimp & Tomato Bisque

  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 – 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup Chardonnay or other white wine
  • 2 garden fresh tomatoes + 2 roma tomatoes (about 0.7 lb), peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup beef or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup mixed vegetable juice such as V8 (or tomato juice)
  • About 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • About 1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha (or other hot sauce … use more or less depending on how spicy you like your soup)
  • 2 cups fat free half & half
  • 1 lb shrimp, fresh or frozen
  • To garnish: freshly shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs

Directions:

  1. Peel and chop the garlic and mix it with the olive oil in a small bowl. Set aside to let the garlic infuse into the oil while you chop the rest of the vegetables.
  2. Once you’ve chopped all the vegies, heat a saucepan or soup pot over medium heat and pour in the garlic and olive oil, then add the celery, onion and carrots and sautee until the onion is soft and translucent. If the vegetables get dry before the onions are soft, add the wine and cook until it has evaporated. Add the flour and stir to coat all the vegetables.
  3. Add the wine (if you haven’t yet added it!), tomatoes, broth, juice, herbs, seasonings and Sriracha and stir well to mix. Bring the mixture to a slow boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the tomatoes break up and you have a nice thick soupy mixture, about 20 – 30 minutes or so. Using an immersion or regular blender, puree the soup. (If you have a blender with a glass carafe, let the soup cool a bit before pureeing it to avoid cracking the glass.)
  4. Pour the soup back into the saucepan and add the half and half and stir to mix, then add the shrimp. Cook over medium low heat just until the shrimp is hot and cooked through. Serve hot, garnished with shredded cheese and fresh herbs if you like, with some flatbread or Naan on the side.

Shrimp & Tomato Bisque

This recipe was shared at Weekend Potluck and Scrumptious Sunday.


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.


Chipotle Black Bean Quesadillas with Avocado Cream

Black Bean Chipotle Quesadilla with Avocado Cream

I have some exciting news for you! Well, it’s exciting to me, anyway, and I hope you find it exciting too … Sumptuous Spoonfuls is teaming up with Swiss Diamond International. I will be crafting some recipes for Swiss Diamond International using their cookware. They are not paying me to do this, but they are giving me samples of their cookware to use in developing their recipes.

I was really excited when Swiss Diamond International contacted me, and even more excited after I read about their cookware.  I was intrigued by the use of diamonds in cookware. This is from Swiss Diamond’s web site:

  • Diamonds are durable - As the hardest material known to man, diamonds give the coating additional strength and resilience.
  • Diamonds are a better heat conductor than metal - Four times more conductive than copper, diamonds create even heat distribution across the pan’s surface. Diamonds also allow the pan to brown food like stainless steel, creating a “fond” that can be used for gravy – or easily washed away with warm soapy water.
  • Diamonds are naturally nonstick - One of the most valuable properties of diamonds in a nonstick coating is that very little sticks to them. Coupled with their durability, this creates a lifetime of superior performance.

So I was curious to see if it really works … and I have to say I absolutely love these pans! They cook like a dream … the heat distributes across the pan so well. The food cooks faster and so evenly. And nothing sticks to the pan … with no cooking spray or butter. I tried some of the stickiest, most difficult things (like fried rice) and nothing stuck. And they’re so easy to clean too. (By the way, while Swiss Diamond did give me the pans, they did not pay me to say that … this is my honest experience.) I’m curious to see how well they retain that magic nonstick surface … I guess time will tell.

Black Bean Chipotle Quesadillas with Avocado Cream

For this recipe, I used the crepe/omelet pan. This little pan is by far my favorite so far. It has a low lip so that it’s easy to flip crepes, omelets, and pancakes. (Even the IHOP-style pancakes that have always been a struggle for me to flip … I found I can even make giant  pancakes – bigger than IHOP’s! – in this pan and they cook and flip SO nicely.) Anyway, I was craving a quesadilla the other day and thought this pan would be perfect for that. I wanted to try making it without any oil or cooking spray and see if the tortilla got properly crisped and browned on both sides. And you know what? It did.

You don’t have to have a crepe / omelet pan to make these quesadillas … any frying pan will do. But it sure makes cooking a pleasure.

Black Bean Chipotle Quesadilla with Avocado Cream in Swiss Diamond International Crepe/Omelet Pan

 Chipotle Black Bean Quesadilla with Avocado Cream

For each quesadilla:

  • 1/2 of a ripe avocado
  • 1 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • juice from 1/4 – 1/2 of a fresh lime
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons plain nonfat yogurt (optional)
  • 2 tortillas that fit the size of your pan. I used some whole wheat “wraps” that were a little smaller than my crepe pan.
  • Refried black beans (homemade or canned)
  • About a Tablespoon of finely chopped onion
  • About a Tablespoon of finely chopped chipotle pepper (a jalapeno roasted on the grill would also work)
  • About 1/2 oz. of finely shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • For serving: your favorite salsa. A fire-roasted salsa is especially nice with this quesadilla!

Directions:

  1. First, make the Avocado cream by mashing the avocado in a bowl, then mash in the cream cheese, onion, garlic and lime juice and stir until everything is mixed well and the mixture is fairly smooth. Add a teaspoon or two of plain nonfat yogurt if you like to get it to a nice spreadable consistency.
  2. Take one tortilla and spread it with a layer of refried black beans, then spread on a layer of avocado cream. Sprinkle the onion and chipotle pepper over, then sprinkle evenly with the shredded cheddar and top it all off with the 2nd tortilla.
  3. Heat your pan over medium heat. If your pan needs it, spray the pan with cooking spray, then slide the quesadilla into the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, then check to see if the bottom is nicely browned and crisp. Once it’s brown, flip the quesadilla over with a spatula and cook until it’s brown on the other side and the cheese is melted. (The bottom half is crisp by now so the quesadilla is fairly easy to flip, but if you are making a large quesadilla, you may need to slide the quesadilla onto a cutting board and then flip it over back into the pan.)
  4. Slide the quesadilla onto a cutting board, cut into wedges, and serve with the salsa.

Black Bean Chipotle Quesadillas with Avocado Cream

If you would like to purchase Swiss Diamond cookware, visit http://www.swissdiamond.us/.

This recipe was shared at Show & Share WednesdayCast Party WednesdayThursday’s TreasuresGala Dinner PartyFit & Fabulous FridaysFriday Food Fight, Weekend Potluck and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade

Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade

My friend gave me a bit of this lovely roasted pepper tomato tapenade she made. Ooh it was delicious! I tried spreading it on toast with melted cheese over top. Yum. I put it on a sandwich. Oh yes! I imagined all the things I could do with this scrumptious spread: it would be lovely in lasagna and all sorts of appetizers (little toasts! yes!) and pizzas and things. I only had a tiny bit that she gave me … but … she had told me what she put in it … tomatillos, sundried & fresh tomatoes, roasted peppers, garlic, olive oil … hmmm …

I still had four of the tomatillos she gave me and a couple fresh garden tomatoes, and oh yes, peppers from mom’s garden … and I even had some of the “sundried” tomatoes (that I dried in the oven), so I thought I would see if I could make a tapenade.

I threw in some fresh herbs and capers for good measure. It’s not exactly like her tapenade, but even if I had had her recipe on hand, I am sure I wouldn’t have followed it precisely. I just can’t properly follow a recipe!

I want to thank my dear friend Denise for giving me her marvelous tapenade … which spurred me to try making it. What a wonderful spread!

Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade

Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade

The best way to roast the peppers, tomatillos and tomato for this tapenade is on the grill, but you could also roast them in the oven.

  • 1 medium fresh garden tomato
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 4 tomatillos
  • 1 large bell pepper
  • 1 hot pepper (I used this big hot red pepper my mom gave me similar to a New Mexico Green Chile, only it’s red … but I think you could use any hot — or not so hot — red pepper)
  • 2 – 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Several sprigs of rosemary
  • A couple sprigs of tarragon
  • A few fresh basil leaves
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons capers

Directions:

  1. Heat up the grill and set the tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers directly over the heat. Roast until the skins of the peppers are charred and black (make sure you turn them to roast all sides of the vegies!) and the tomatoes are soft. This should only take a few minutes if your grill is good and hot.
  2. Let the roasted vegies cool for a bit till they are cool enough to handle, then cut out the stem & core of the peppers and tomatoes, leaving the charred skin ON.
  3. Pop all the ingredients except the capers in a handi chopper or food processor and blend until it forms a smooth paste. Pour the tapenade into a bowl and stir in the capers. Add salt if you like … I didn’t think it needed any.
  4. Serve on toast or crackers, use as a sauce for pizza, stir it into the ricotta mixture for your lasagna, use it as a tasty sandwich spread … or just let your imagination run wild.

Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade

This recipe was shared at Melt in your Mouth MondayTotally Tasty TuesdayTuesday Talent ShowTasty Tuesday, Show & Share Wednesday, Cast Party WednesdayNewlyweds Recipe Linky, Gala Dinner Party, Fit & Fabulous Fridays and All my Bloggy Friends.


Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie “Noodles”

Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie Noodles

Shhhh … they aren’t really “noodles” … they just look sort of like noodles. They don’t really taste like noodles either, but I love the noodley look of this colorful vegetable medley. The Pesto Rosso (a.k.a, sundried tomato pesto) really complements the sauteed veggies too, especially when you add some crumbles of cheese on top.

It was getting very close to bedtime last night when I realized I was hungry. I didn’t want to have a big, heavy meal right before bed, but I didn’t want my stomach waking me up in the middle of night either. So I decided at the last moment to cook up something light and healthy but filling enough to tide me over till morning. I’ve been toying with the idea of using zucchini and summer squash as noodles with sauce over top, but when I went to make it, I thought “why just zucchini? why not toss some other vegetables too?” … and so I did.

For me, this was a late night snack, but I could envision these lovelies as a beautiful bed for meat, fish or chicken. Can you imagine how appetizing that would look? Or you could eat them as is for a wonderfully healthy vegetarian dinner. If you want a heartier meal, toss them with some whole grain fettucine or linguine. The wonderful thing about eating vegetables for dinner is you can pretty much eat as many as you want without guilt or worry.

Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie Noodles

Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie “Noodles”

This makes about enough for 1 hearty plateful or two side servings. Multiply if you have more mouths to feed!

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 – 1/2 of a small sweet onion
  • 1/3 of a large bell pepper (I used a yellow one)
  • 1/2 of a medium-sized zucchini (yielding a heaping cup or so of zucchini “noodles”)
  • 1 roma tomato
  • About 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (I used Basil and Terragon)
  • A splash of wine (or water)
  • About 1 Tablespoon Pesto Rosso (Sundried Tomato Pesto … recipe here)
  • About 1/2 Tablespoon white wine (or water)
  • To top: crumbled feta or queso fresco — or thin “shards” of freshly cut Parmesan & a cherry tomato or sprig of fresh basil or parsley, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Peel and chop the garlic finely and, in a small bowl, mix it with the olive oil. Set aside to allow the garlic to infuse into the oil while you chop up the vegies.
  2. Slice the vegies into thin noodle shapes. For the onion, slice it vertically and very thin. The zucchini: slice it in half, then slice each half into very thin slices. Cut the slices into noodle-sized strips. The tomato: cut it vertically, then slice like you did the zucchini. The bell pepper: just cut it into very thin strips.
  3. Now heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic with olive oil, onion and bell pepper and sautee until the onion is soft. Then add the zucchini and tomato and sautee until the zucchini “noodles” are tender. If the pan gets dry while you are cooking, add a splash of white wine (or water) to keep the vegies moist and tender and make sure they don’t stick to the pan.
  4. Mix the pesto rosso with a bit of white wine (or water) to thin it out, then toss it with the vegies.
  5. Top with crumbled cheese or shards of parmesan, garnish with a cherry tomato and/or fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie "Noodles"

This recipe was shared at Tasty TuesdayWonderful Food WednesdayCast Party WednesdayFull Plate Thursday, Fit & Fabulous Friday, Weekend Potluck and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Fairy Tale Tomato, Corn & Bread Salad

with Great Northern Beans & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato  and Bread Salad: something's missing ...

Have you ever made something once and thought “it’s good, but it really ought to be better?” Yeah, that’s what happened here. The first time I made it I used a great big eggplant and I tried cooking it on the grill. Except my coals ran out of heat and the eggplant didn’t get properly cooked and it was this awful rubbery texture. I ended up picking all of the eggplant out of my salad that night and just eating the tomatoes with the corn and bread … not that that was a BAD thing, it was quite delightful that way. I just hated wasting the lovely eggplant …

So: take 2. This time I used a couple of my fairy tale eggplant. If you’ve not seen fairy tale eggplant, they are those tiny purple eggplant that look SO adorable because they are about finger sized or a little bigger, maybe half my hand size?  You never have to peel them or salt them because their skins are perfectly tender and they are never bitter. If you’re inexperienced with eggplant, fairy tale eggplant are a good place to start. This time was definitely better … but something was missing … oh my gosh! the corn! I totally forgot the corn. Okay, so I went and grabbed some corn from the freezer, cooked it up and added it … ah! much better!

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato, Corn and Bread Salad

Fairy Tale Tomato, Corn & Bread Salad

Adapted from Williams Sonoma. For one hearty serving or two small “sides”:

  • 2-4 fairy tale eggplant (about 1/2 cup after roasting/chopping)
  • 1 cup fresh garden tomato, chopped into bite-size chunks
  • 1/2 cup cooked white beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup cooked corn, drained
  • 2 slices of sweet onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups toasted whole wheat bread cubes (about 1 inch in size … or smaller … to your liking)
  • A few fresh basil & tarragon leaves
  • A few roasted sunflower seeds
  • Tahini yogurt ranch dressing (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Slice the fairy tale eggplant lengthwise in 1/2-inch slices. (You can use other eggplant in place of Fairy Tale, but you may need to peel them first.) Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set the eggplant on the baking sheet. Spray them with cooking spray and sprinkle with a bit of salt or Red Robin Seasoning. Roast the eggplant in the oven or toaster oven at 400 for about 10 minutes or until they are tender.
  2. While the eggplant are cooking, chop the tomato and onion and heat the white beans and corn up. Also, set the bread cubes on another oiled baking sheet  and let them toast in the oven for the last few minutes of the eggplant roasting or until the cubes are lightly browned and toasted.
  3. Chop the eggplant into bite-size chunks. In your salad bowl, toss the eggplant, tomato, corn and onion till well mixed. Gently fold in the toasted bread cubes, drizzle with tahini ranch dressing and sprinkle with fresh herbs and sunflower seeds.

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato, Corn and Bread Salad

Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

  • 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup mixed fresh herbs (I used rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon, oregano, parsley … dill would be wonderful too, but my dill plant has died off)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste as needed) + freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a handi chopper or food processor, blend all ingredients till the herbs and garlic are well chopped and the mixture is fairly smooth. Taste the dressing and add salt and/or pepper to taste. Store any leftover dressing in a covered container in the fridge.

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayFriday Favorites and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Simply Spicy Tortilla Soup

Simply Spicy Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup is one of the most marvelous things in life. It’s got everything going for it: the lovely crunch of the tortilla chips, the oozy melted cheese, tasty Mexican flavors, the soothing comfort of a hot bowl of soup. Plus it’s great for your sinuses and your health and it’s so easy to make. It’s such a versatile soup too: it can be a nice vegetarian meal or starter, or you can add meat or seafood to it for a heartier soup. The other thing I like about tortilla soup is it helps use up those chips on the bottom of the bag that aren’t big enough for other uses (like dipping).

I made this simple soup without any meat, allowing the flavors of the tomato and the peppers to really shine through, but you can add meat if you like. I listed a whole bunch of things you could add to this soup if you want to change things up a bit.

Simply Spicy Tortilla Soup

Simply Spicy Tortilla Soup

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 of a large onion, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 fresh garden tomatoes, peeled and cored (about 1 lb or 2 cups after they are pureed) … canned tomatoes work too
  • 3 jalapenos, chopped (use more or less depending on how spicy you want your soup … you can substitute other peppers for the jalapenos too … use bell pepper for a milder soup, or a different hot chile pepper to vary the flavor)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt)
  • Baked or fried tortilla chips (or strips)
  • Shredded Mexican and/or queso fresco crumbles
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Optional add-ins:
    • sautee with the onion/garlic: celery, carrots, zucchini or other veggies
    • add with the tomatoes/peppers: chicken, pork, shrimp, crab, avocado, lime juice, cooked corn, cooked beans, hominy

Directions:

  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil and swirl it around, then the chopped onion and garlic. Sautee until the onion is very soft and translucent.
  2. Pour the tomatoes (with juices) into a blender and blend till smooth. Add them to the pot along with the jalapenos, broth, tomato sauce, and seasonings. Reduce heat slightly and allow the soup to simmer for about 15 – 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the peppers to cook and the flavors to meld.
  3. To serve: pour the hot soup into bowls, sprinkle with tortilla chips and cheese, then cilantro and avocado (if you like).

Simply Spicy Tortilla Soup

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty TuesdaysNewlyweds Recipe LinkyCast Party WednesdayFull Plate Thursday, Kitchen Fun Friday, Weekend Potluck, Lifeologia’s Birthday Party Potluck, Fit & Fabulous Fridays and All my Bloggy Friends.


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.


Curried Red Pepper Aubergine Soup

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Eggplant Thai Curry Soup

I’ve been toying with the idea of making a thai-style curry soup with my aubergines … aubergine, isn’t that a fabulous word? It sounds so fancy and cultured to me. Usually I just use the word “eggplant”, but it doesn’t carry the same elegance that these beautiful purple vegetables really deserve.

Anyway, I came home from yoga class the other night STARVING and decided to begin the creation of the Thai curry soup. Somehow thought this would be a quick thing to do … I started up the grill because I’m really loving the smoky flavor from the grill and set a bunch of lovely vegetables on there for their “fire” roasting. Yes, I really did start up the grill just to roast vegetables. It didn’t take long to roast them … but then I got busy with other things and with the kids.

Hours later (just before bedtime), I finally sat down to enjoy a cup of my curried red pepper aubergine soup. It’s not that the soup really takes that long to make … it’s just that … well, I’m a mom … and I’m easily distracted (look! facebook!) … and my kitchen was already a mess so there was a bit of work to do there too … oh well, it got done eventually and I did get a bowl of soup and now I have a delicious soup I can quickly reheat for lunches this week.

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Eggplant Thai Curry Soup

Curried Red Pepper Aubergine Soup

Yields a little over a quart of soup.

  • 3 good-size Japanese Eggplant (the long skinny dark black purple kind of eggplant … or 1 large globe eggplant) … yielding about a cup of eggplant after roasting (a little more or less is fine)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 hot red pepper (or if you don’t want your soup to be spicy, use a bell pepper in place of the hot pepper)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled, chopped
  • 1/2 of an onion, peeled, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste (to taste)
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons brown sugar (or other sweetener of your choice … to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Garnish: plain lowfat yogurt (or Greek yogurt) and fresh parsley or better yet, cilantro!

Directions:

  1. Poke the eggplant all around with a fork. Light up the grill and when the coals are hot, set the eggplant and the peppers right over the hot coals to roast. (A gas grill would work fine too … you COULD even roast them in the oven if you prefer …) Here’s a shot of my eggplant and peppers on the grill. I used these 3 eggplant, the red bell pepper, and one of the hot peppers in this soup. The other two peppers I’m going to put in a salsa (I think …)
    Roasting Eggplant & Peppers on the Grill
  2. You don’t want to burn them, but the skins of the eggplant will turn dark and the pepper skins should turn black. Turn the peppers and eggplant over to make sure you roast all sides. The peppers will be done very quickly. Pull the peppers off the grill and let them cool while you finish cooking the eggplant. Cook the eggplant until it is limp and soft.
  3. The peel on the peppers and the eggplant should come right off after roasting. Pull off the peel, chop off the top stems from the eggplant, and put the “good parts” of the peppers and the eggplant in a blender or handi chopper. Puree them until smooth.
  4. In a saucepan, sautee the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent, soft and starting to brown. Stir in the eggplant/pepper paste and the remaining ingredients. Stir everything together till it’s well mixed, bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until the flavors have had time to “meld”.
  5. When the soup is done, puree it in a blender (or use an immersion blender). I’ve heard of people cracking the glass of a glass blender with hot soup, so you might want to let it cool a bit before blending it if you are using a glass blender.
  6. Garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt and a sprig of fresh parsley and serve hot. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the fridge. This soup reheats nicely in the microwave.

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Eggplant Thai Curry Soup

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayThursday’s TreasuresFoodie Friends FridayFit & Fabulous Friday and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Savory Breakfast Quinoa with Harvest Vegies

and some blue cheese crumbles and a few sunflower seeds too …

Savory Breakfast Quinoa with Harvest Vegetables & Blue cheese

Ann from Fountain Avenue Kitchen posted this beautiful recipe this morning. She started out her morning with this lovely breakfast … only to have it fall and land on the floor, breaking the plate. Oh how I can relate! I have mornings like that. Days when everything seems to tumble and break. She didn’t seem too upset about it … she was just glad that there was another serving left … I was mourning the loss of that beautiful square plate! And it wasn’t even mine.

But her breakfast quinoa sounded really good and it just so happens I had a bit of cooked quinoa in the fridge and an over-abundance of fresh vegetables in the house. So I made this for myself, and served it on a square plate … in honor of my friend Ann who gave her plate to bring me this recipe.

Savory Breakfast Quinoa with Harvest Vegetables & Blue cheese

Savory Breakfast Quinoa with Harvest Vegetables & Blue Cheese

Adapted from Fountain Avenue Kitchen. I didn’t have the same ingredients on hand so I switched out the vegies and the cheese. Feel free to mix up the vegies and cheese to what you like/what you have on hand.

For each serving:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa (hot!)
  • about 2/3 cup fresh chopped summer squash and/or zucchini (or other vegetables)
  • About 10 cherry tomatoes (or 1 small garden fresh tomato, chopped)
  • a sprig of tarragon
  • a few basil leaves
  • 1 egg
  • a tablespoon or so of blue cheese crumbles & a few roasted sunflower seeds

Mix the olive oil and the garlic in a small bowl and let it sit for a few minutes to infuse the olive oil with the garlic flavors while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

Once you have everything together, toss the summer squash with the cherry tomatoes in the garlic and olive oil. Toss in the basil and tarragon as well. Set them on a small baking sheet and roast for about 10  minutes at 400 degrees or until the squash is crisp tender.

While the squash and tomatoes are roasting, heat a frying pan on medium heat and fry up an egg to your liking. I prefer them over easy, but do what makes you happy.

Now, when the squash and tomatoes are roasted, mix them with the hot cooked quinoa. Put a bed of the quinoa mixture on your plate, top with a few blue cheese crumbles and sunflower seeds, then when the egg is cooked properly, slide it on top of the quinoa.

Enjoy!

Savory Breakfast Quinoa with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Squash and Blue Cheese

This recipe was shared at Newlyweds Recipe LinkyWeekend Potluck and Totally Tasty Tuesday.


Tomato Cuke Salad w Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Tina at Mom’s Crazy Cooking has a monthly challenge for food bloggers. She asks all of us to make one certain thing on the 7th of each month … the idea is we are searching for the ultimate recipe for that one thing. This month it’s ranch dressing. Ranch I can do! I’ve made plain ranch, garlic ranch, avocado ranch, sundried tomato ranch … they were all really good, but this time I thought I would like to add some tahini (sesame seed paste) to the ranch and then lighten it up by cutting the amount of mayonnaise down. The tahini along with the fresh herbs adds such a complexity of flavor that you won’t even notice the mayo went away. This salad dressing makes an excellent dressing for just about any savory salad or a good dip for veggies or chips.

The tomato cucumber salad uses the fresh garden ingredients that are overflowing in my house right now: tomato and cucumber. I added some sweet onion, toasted walnuts and edam cheese because I thought they would taste wonderful with the fresh tomato & cucumber.

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Edam Cheese & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

For each salad:

  • 1 – 2 tomatoes, that roughly match the diameter of the cucumber, cut into slices
  • 1/2 – 1 cucumber, sliced thin
  • A couple thin slices of sweet onion
  • A few thin slices of edam cheese, cut into small rectangles
  • A couple tablespoons of walnuts, toasted
  • A couple Tablespoons of Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. First make the dressing.
  2. Then prep the salad by alternately layering slices of cucumber and tomato on your plate. If it’s a round plate, simply follow the curve of the plate, then tuck the last tomato or cucumber under the starting one.
  3. Top with sweet onion slices, cheese and walnuts. Drizzle each “row” of tomato/cucumber slices with a bit of the dressing. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves.
  4. To eat the salad, take a slice of cucumber, slice of tomato and make sure to get a little onion, cheese, walnuts and dressing on top. It’s a little messy when you’re eating it, but SO worth it!

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Edam Cheese & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

  • 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup mixed fresh herbs (I used rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon, oregano, parsley … dill would be wonderful too, but my dill plant has died off)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste as needed) + freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a handi chopper or food processor, blend all ingredients till the herbs and garlic are well chopped and the mixture is fairly smooth. Taste the dressing and add salt and/or pepper to taste. Store any leftover dressing in a covered container in the fridge.

This is a Crazy Cooking Challenge post. Click on the button to see all the other wonderful ranch dressings.

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This recipe was also shared at Manic Monday, Newlyweds Recipe LinkyTotally Tasty TuesdayTalent Show TuesdayThursday’s Treasures, Weekend Potluck and Fit & Fabulous Friday.


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.


Creamy Cheesy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

Creamy Cheesy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

It is September … the weather is starting to cool down. I was really loving the cooler weather … until my allergies kicked in …

Ah but I am lucky! I “inherited” some wild rice from my sister. She said it was too salty and brought it along up to my parents’ place last weekend for us to “fix” for her. Well we didn’t get around to making anything with it, she left and my other sister left and there was still the wild rice in the fridge, so my mom asked if I would take it. Sure, I said. Then I can make soup!

So yes, I made soup. And what’s better than soup in the fall when there’s a little chill in the air and your allergies are in overdrive? Soup is just the thing to make you feel better … it’s so warm and comforting and wonderful.

Creamy Cheesy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

Creamy Cheesy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

This is a very thick and chunky soup. Feel free to adjust the amounts of vegies, rice and meats to your liking … if you want more of the delicious cheesy broth, put in fewer vegies and rice. Like many soups, it is really better the next day. If you want a vegetarian soup, leave out the meat and use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth

  • 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (reserve the leaves!)
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup shredded Edam cheese (I used some Dofino Edam cheese that Dofino sent to me as a “sample”)
  • 1/4 cup Asiago cheese (or other sharp cheese such as parmesan or romano)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 2 cups cooked wild rice (use the wild Minnesota wild rice if you can find it … it’s SO much better!)
  • 3/4 cup cooked leftover chicken (or more if you want a meatier soup)
  • 1/2 cup corn (frozen, thawed or pre-cooked fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon Red Robin Seasoning or your favorite seasoned salt
  • The leaves from a few sprigs of fresh oregano and parsley
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • For garnish: shredded cheese and oregano or parsley leaves

Directions:

  1. Heat a saucepan or your soup pot over medium heat and add the olive oil and swirl it around.
  2. Pour the celery, onions, carrots, zucchini and garlic into the pot. Over medium-high heat, sautee the vegies until the onions are soft and translucent and the zucchini is tender.
  3. Add the flour to the pan and stir, coating all your little vegetables and garlic bits in flour. Do this quickly before the flour starts to brown.
  4. Add the milk and bay leaf and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for about 5 – 10 minutes or so or until the mixture thickens.
  5. Add the shredded cheeses and cook for a few minutes longer until the cheese melts, then stir in the broth, rice, chicken, corn, and lower the heat to a simmer (on medium low to low) and cook for 15 – 20 minutes to let the flavors meld. Stir in the reserved celery leaves, oregano, parsley and Red Robin Seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve hot, garnished with a bit more shredded edam cheese and a few fresh oregano or parsley leaves. Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge.

Creamy Cheesy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

This recipe was shared at Share it Saturday, Manic Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday and Talent Show Tuesday.


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.


Eggplant Parmesan Layer Dip

Eggplant Parmesan Dip

I had a big beautiful purple eggplant that was starting to fade, so I had to find a good use for it fast. I decided to make it into a dip … at first I was going to make some more baba ghanoush, but then I thought perhaps I could make something different with it … perhaps something with the flavors of Eggplant Parmesan … except creamier. Something you could spread on little toasts and munch on with a good glass of wine.

Eggplant Parmesan Dip

We finished the A-Z Health Challenge on facebook on Saturday … I still need to make my way through all the Zucchini recipes everyone shared, but I was busy with my Mom and Dad’s Anniversary party this weekend. The party turned out well, but I’m exhausted. I need a day off. How nice that we have a holiday today so I have a day just to rest. Although I won’t really be resting. We’ll be harvesting tomatoes and other garden bounty, packing and driving and unpacking, assembling my new chairs that my aunt and uncle brought up for me.

Eggplant Parmesan Dip

Eggplant Parmesan Layer Dip

  • 2 1/2 cups roasted eggplant (I used 1 large globe + 1 small Japanese eggplant)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup fat free greek yogurt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Your favorite marinara or pasta sauce (I used my crock pot garden marinara sauce)
  • Shredded asiago (or parmesan) and mozzarella cheese (maybe a cup of the two cheeses, mixed? I didn’t measure the cheese … use enough to cover the sauce)
  • Fresh garden tomato, chopped fine
  • Fresh herbs for garnish
  • Thin slices of toasted ciabatta or french bread

Directions:

  1. To roast the eggplant on the grill, poke the pretty purple fruit all around with a fork, then grill on a hot grill until the outside is black and charred and the eggplant is sagging a LOT … that means it’s fully cooked.
  2. Pull off the peel and discard, then chop the pulp roughly and measure it. You will need about 2 1/2 cups for this dip (or you can scale down the other ingredients to match the amount of eggplant you have). Put the eggplant, garlic, herbs, and cream cheese in a food processor or handi chopper and blend till smooth. I had to do this in batches because my handi chopper wasn’t big enough to hold it all! Pour the creamy mixture into a bowl and stir in the greek yogurt, then add salt to taste.
  3. You can serve the dip in individual ramekins or in a larger pie or tart pan. Smear a good thick layer of the creamy eggplant mixture on the bottom of the dish, cover with a layer of marinara or pasta sauce, then top with shredded cheese and some chopped tomato on top. Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with thinly sliced toasted ciabatta or french bread.

Eggplant Parmesan Dip

This recipe was shared at Weekend PotluckMelt in your Mouth Monday, Manic MondayTalent Show TuesdayTrick or Treat Tuesday, Newlyweds Recipe Linky, Cast Party WednesdayThursday’s Treasures and Fit & Fabulous Friday.


Baba Crostini

Baba Crostini

This is a super simple, but super fun and delicious recipe. You can make this up as a big sandwich if you like too, using a bun or a ciabatta roll instead of the toasts. I did that for lunch one day with ciabatta and totally loved it. I was originally going to post this recipe as a sandwich … but I do so love little toasts.

Baba Crostini

The smoked Havarti cheese was a gift to me from Dofino Cheese. I have always loved their Havarti, but I really really love  their smoked Havarti. The tomatoes and the eggplant for the baba ghanoush were from my mom’s garden.

Baba Crostini

I’m not giving amounts here because you can make a few up for a snack (like I did!), or a bunch for a crowd … whatever suits you!

  • Ciabatta bread, sliced thin and lightly toasted
  • Baba Ghanoush (It’s easy to make! … here’s my recipe for Baba Ghanoush)
  • Smoked Havarti cheese, sliced
  • Slices of fresh garden tomato, cut to match the size of the bread slices
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish

Spread the ciabatta toast slices with a thick layer of baba ghanoush, top each with a slice of havarti, and set on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 F. for 5 – 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Top each crostini with a slice of fresh tomato and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

Baba Crostini

This recipe was shared at Melt in your Mouth MondayManic MondayTrick or Treat Tuesday and Thursday’s Treasures.


Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

and a Mushroom Cherry Tomato Quinoa Pilaf

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

Ever since I made Baba Ghanoush, I’ve been wondering: what else could you do with eggplant puree? And then I picked up these HUGE chicken breasts at the store and was marinading them in buttermilk for my daughter and I for dinner … and it occurred to me that these babies would be really good stuffed with something wonderful and creamy. Eggplant puree, with cream cheese! and fresh tarragon and basil! Ah yes! How wonderful would THAT be?

Um yeah, completely wonderful … especially when you serve it over a pilaf of nutty quinoa with garlicky sauteed mushrooms and fresh garden cherry tomatoes.

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Marinade: buttermilk + seasonings

Eggplant Tarragon Cream Filling:

  • 3/4 cup chopped roasted (or grilled) eggplant
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 oz light cream cheese
  • About 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped mixed basil & tarragon leaves

Directions:

  1. Put the chicken breasts in a bowl and add enough buttermilk to cover them completely. Add seasonings as you like: I added a couple teaspoons of Mrs. Dash and a couple teaspoons of a basic rub seasoning I like to use. Let the chicken marinade in the buttermilk for at least an hour … I left mine in there overnight.
  2. To cook the eggplant, I took a couple of the little purple tender eggplant from mom’s garden, sliced them lengthwise, sprayed them with cooking spray and set on a baking sheet that I’d sprayed with cooking spray. (If you’re using a larger eggplant, you probably want to peel it and slice into 1/4 inch slices.) Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant is soft and tender. Chop the eggplant roughly and toss them into a handi chopper with a couple cloves of garlic, the cream cheese and some fresh tarragon and basil leaves. Pulse to mix it all well and make a good creamy filling.
  3. Now, take the chicken breasts and slice into them horizontally with a small knife, not cutting all the way through so you make a little pocket in each chicken breast. Fill each pocket with half the filling, then close the open end with a toothpick.
  4. Heat up your grill and sear both sides of the chicken breasts on the hot part of the grill, then move them to the cooler part of the grill to cook until they are cooked through.
  5. Serve over a bed of the mushroom cherry tomato quinoa pilaf (recipe below), garnished with a few fresh basil or tarragon leaves.

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

Mushroom Cherry Tomato Quinoa Pilaf

  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of mushrooms sauteed with red wine, garlic, and bruschetta seasoning (see my Chardonnay Mushrooms recipe for instructions)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • Roasted sunflower seeds

Sautee the mushrooms with a couple cloves of garlic and a splash of red wine like I did with my Chardonnay Mushrooms. Add the hot, cooked quinoa, then the cherry tomatoes and stir gently to mix. Cook for just a few minutes to let the cherry tomatoes heat up. Serve the pilaf sprinkled with a couple tablespoons of sunflower seeds for a nice salty crunch.

This recipe was shared at Cast Party Wednesday, Weekend Potluck1 Month of Fun and Talent Show Tuesday.


Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

I dreamed of this tart for days but I was too busy to make it … I could picture it in my mind: a lovely summer tart filled with garlic and herb-infused Ricotta and Asiago cheeses, topped with rows of beautifully overlapping garden fresh tomato and tender little purple eggplant slices. Finally I could not stand it any longer. I had to make it. It was nearing twilight, so I rushed to finish it in time to have enough light to photograph it. I was using these lovely little purple eggplant from mom’s garden and some of those little tomatoes that pretty perfectly matched the diameter of the eggplant.

Purple eggplant for the Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

It turned out beautiful …  but the cornmeal crust I had thought would be so good was just awful (re-confirming my irrational fear of pie crust). It looked perfectly lovely … I tried eating it, but ended up eating the topping and leaving the crust … I stuck the tart in the fridge overnight while I considered what to do … the next night I went and bought some puff pastry at the store, scraped the topping off the old crust, roasted some more eggplant and re-made the tart, again rushing to beat the impending darkness. This time, it turned out MUCH better, taste-wise, but not quite as pretty. I had used up all the tomatoes that matched the size of the eggplant so I couldn’t get that perfect layered effect. I used one of the darker Japanese eggplant in hopes that it would match the size of the larger tomatoes, but it didn’t at all. And this tart was square, not round. I don’t think I allowed the puff pastry enough time to thaw because the crust really wasn’t as puffy as it should have been. But despite all that, it tasted oh so wonderful. Almost as good as my dream tart.

Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

Crust:

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (or a pie crust would work if you are not afraid of such things like me)

Topping:

  • About 2 small, tender eggplant
  • Several small tomatoes (with a diameter that roughly matches the eggplant)

Filling:

  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese + a few extra tablespoons for the top
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • Several sprigs of fresh tarragon and basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Thaw your puff pastry or prepare the pie crust.
  2. Slice the eggplant thinly (about 1/8 inch thick) and place on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and dust with Red Robin Seasoning or your favorite seasoned salt. Bake eggplant at 350 for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant slices are tender. (These little tender eggplant don’t require any peeling or salting.)
  3. While the eggplant is cooking, slice the tomatoes thinly and set them aside.
  4. Mix the ricotta, asiago, garlic and about half of the chopped herbs.
  5. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay out the puff pastry (or place the pie crust in your tart pan). Spread the ricotta filling almost to the edge of the crust, then arrange alternating layers of the eggplant and tomato slices on top. If you are using puff pastry, roll up the edge of the pastry just a bit and pinch the corners. Sprinkle with a little asiago cheese and bake at 400 for 20 minutes or so or until the pastry has browned on the edges and the cheese is all melted.
  6. Sprinkle with the rest of the fresh herbs. Slice and serve immediately.

Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

This recipe was shared with Weekend PotluckScrumptious Sunday, Manic MondayTotally Tasty Tuesday, and Cast Party Wednesday.


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.


Baba Ghanoush: a smoky, wonderful dip

Baba Ghanoush: a creamy wonderful garlic eggplant dip

If you have never had Baba Ghanoush, you should try it. It’s a creamy, garlicky, silky smooth dip somewhat akin to hummus in flavor, but lighter and smoky tasting and oh so wonderful. It’s made of eggplant, but if someone didn’t tell you it was made of eggplant, you would never guess.

I used the smaller, thinner long skinny Japanese eggplant for this Baba Ghanoush. If you use the larger, globe-style eggplant, you will want to adjust the other ingredients because you’ll end up with more pulp. After grilling your eggplant, measure the pulp and multiply the rest of the ingredients by the number of cups of eggplant you have.

Baba Ghanoush: a creamy, smoky wonderful dip

Baba Ghanoush

  • 3 Japanese eggplant (yielding about 1 cup of pulp after roasting)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon tahini
  • 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 hot chili pepper (optional … baba ghanoush doesn’t usually have hot pepper in it, but I roasted these beautiful hot peppers last night and thought it would be a good addition … and it IS! I love the kick it adds to the dip!)
  • Fresh parsley
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. To get the smoky flavor, you need to grill the eggplant, so start up your grill and if it’s one of those gas grills, throw some rosemary or apple wood chips or something like that on the coals to make a good smoke. Poke your eggplant all over with a fork and set it on the hot grill and roast it for quite a while … until the skin is charred and dark on all sides and the eggplant has gone totally limp and cooked down. Let it set for a few minutes to cool down enough to touch it, then pull off the peel, saving the soft wonderful roasted interior. It might not be the prettiest thing to look at at this point, but don’t worry. It will taste wonderful!
  2. If you are lucky enough to have a hot chili pepper around, roast that on the hot grill too till the skin is black and charred and bubbly on both sides (this won’t take long! only a few minutes on each side), then pull the peel off of the pepper. It should slip right off.
  3. In a food processor or handi chopper, add the roasted peeled eggplant, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, the peeled chili pepper and the parsley and blend until the dip is totally smooth and silky. Add salt to taste. Serve at room temperature (or a little warmer) with little toasts or crackers or vegies for dipping. Baba Ghanoush also makes a great sandwich spread and goes very well in a wrap too.

Baba Ghanoush: a creamy, smoky wonderful dip

This recipe was shared at Tastetastic ThursdayFoodie Friends FridayFit & Fabulous Friday, and Totally Tasty Tuesday.


Smoked Havarti Cheese Stuffed Mini Tomatoes

Smoked Havarti Stuffed Mini Tomatoes

My dad decided to try a different variety of tomatoes … some that would mature earlier so he would have tomatoes earlier on in the season … great idea, but this summer has been so hot that his “early” tomatoes only ripened about a week before the rest of the tomatoes.

These little tomatoes are prolific and delicious, if a little small. They are a little bigger than grape tomatoes, yet smaller than regular ones. Mom has boxes and boxes of them … so I took a little box of these little ones because I thought they would make lovely appetizer tomatoes, stuffed with cheese. I took a picture so you could see how big they are …

Mini Tomatoes

And what do you know? I was right! It took me a couple tries, but you can stuff them up, bake them briefly (only briefly or they get over-soft and fall apart and the cheese falls out!) and then munch. They taste simply delightful!

For this recipe, you could certainly use cherry or grape, roma or even full-size tomatoes. Just make sure they are tomatoes from the garden (or farmer’s market) because those grocery store tomatoes are just pale shadows of REAL garden tomatoes.

Smoked Havarti Stuffed Mini Tomatoes

Smoked Havarti Cheese Stuffed Mini Tomatoes

I was making these just for me, so this makes a small amount! Please double or triple the recipe if you have a crowd to feed! The smoky cheese tomato stuffing is also lovely all by itself, simply spread on toast …

  • Several small tomatoes (I stuffed 6 lil tomatoes for lunch, but had about half the filling left …)
  • 1/4 cup of tomato pulp (from the center of the tomatoes you’re stuffing)
  • About 3 oz. light cream cheese
  • About 1/4 cup bread crumbs (whole wheat is good!)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • A sprig or two of fresh tarragon, chopped fine
  • A sprig or two of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • About 1/2 oz. shredded smoked Havarti cheese (roughly 1/4 cup)
  • A couple tablespoons of roasted, shelled pistachios, chopped roughly
  • For garnish: basil flowers and/or leaves
  • For serving: thinly sliced baguette, toasted, or other small toasts

Directions:

  1. Take the tomatoes you want to stuff and set them out on a flat surface. Notice how they “sit” the best. It might be on their side. Mine all wanted to sit sideways. Cut off the top “side” (the opposite side from the side each tomato wants to sit on), then carefully scoop out the center part of the tomato, being careful not to cut the outside shell. Once you have all your tomatoes hollowed out, set them on a baking tray and chop up the tomato pulp you pulled out of the tomatoes.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of the tomato pulp with the cream cheese, bread crumbs, tarragon, basil and Havarti cheese, reserving some fresh basil leaves for garnish. Carefully scoop some of the filling into each of the hollowed out tomatoes, filling it to the top. Press a couple pieces of pistachio on top.
  3. Bake at 400 for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is hot and bubbly on top and the tomatoes just begin to sag a little bit. Don’t bake them too long or the tomatoes will get too soft and won’t hold their shape.
  4. Set the tomatoes carefully on a serving plate, garnish with basil leaves and/or basil flowers and serve immediately, hot out of the oven. You can pop them into your mouth just like this … or I found they go rather nicely on toasted baguette. I would caution against wearing a white shirt while eating these … they do sometimes squirt juice when you bite into them. You can avoid this by popping the whole thing in your mouth at once, but those of us with little mouths have a little trouble with that!

Smoked Havarti Stuffed Mini Tomatoes

This recipe was shared at Tastetastic Thursday, Foodie Friends Friday and Scrumptious Sunday.


Bulgur Black Bean Salad with Tomato & Avocado

Bulgur Black Bean & Fresh Tomato Salad with Avocado & Jalapeno

My friend gave me some cooked bulgur when we went camping together … in a way, I wonder if she gave it to me just so she could see what I would do with it. I brought it home. It sat in the fridge till I was nearly sure it must have gone bad already … and then, suddenly, I was craving Mexican food. Something with black beans and jalapenos and tomatoes and cilantro and onions. And then it occurred to me what to do with the bulgur: give it a KICK! I made this salad one day last week and munched, munched, munched all afternoon.

Last weekend my friend came up to my parents’ place for the first time EVER, with her hubby and youngest son. We ate antelope & venison that my dad cooked on the grill, dad’s garden potatoes mixed with peppers, spices and cheese and my tarragon roasted vegetables. Then the next day we munched on Dad’s fabulous fresh garden melons. I fed them caramel peach bread pudding, chocolate zucchini cake, and sandwiches made from the roasted veggies and grilled meat (yes, in that order).

And after we had eaten all of that, I remembered  the bulgur salad. Everyone was stuffed, but I made my friend taste a bite of it anyway, since she had given me the bulgur. She loved it, so I sent it home with her.

Bulgur Black Bean Salad with Avocado & Fresh Tomato

I played around a little with stuffing a couple tomatoes with the salad for a pretty presentation … what do you think? (Vegies in the background are stray bounty from my mom & dad’s garden … it’s everywhere!)

Bulgur Black Bean Salad with Fresh Tomato & Avocado

This is a hearty, spicy, flavorful salad that you could serve as a meal all by itself.

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked bulgur
  • 3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 or 2 medium fresh garden tomatoes, chopped

Dressing:

  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped jalapeno (use more or less jalapeno according to how hot & spicy you like it)
  • 1/2 – 1 whole avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped (I only had about 1/2 an avocado, but I think the salad would be tastier with more!)
  • Garnish: cilantro or parsley leaves and a slice of fresh lime

Directions:

  1. Toss together the cooked bulgur, onion, black beans, and tomatoes in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, honey, and cilantro (or parsley) until well blended. Gently fold the avocado pieces into the dressing to coat. (This will help keep the avocado from turning black.)
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to mix. Garnish with a twisted slice of lime and some cilantro (or parsley) just before serving.

Bulgur Black Bean Salad with Fresh Tomato, Sweet Onion & Avocado

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous Friday.


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