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Posts tagged “Tomato

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.


Turkey Tomato White Cheddar Melt

Smoked Turkey Tomato White Cheddar Melt

This is the sandwich I made with the Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade.

It is simply delicious and it’s something you can totally make in a rush. If you’ve got the tapenade in your fridge, the sandwich comes together in a few minutes. All you need is a whole wheat bun, some turkey, sweet onion, fresh garden tomato and some extra sharp white cheddar cheese. If you have a couple large basil leaves that is an excellent finishing touch.

I had about 30 minutes between errands and my daughter’s dance class last weekend to make myself and her something to eat. This is what I made for ME because while I had fed the kids breakfast, I ran out of time to feed myself, so by lunchtime I was starving. In a rush, I started grabbing things from the fridge and this was what became of it.

I managed to snap a few photos somehow before I chowed it down and ran out the door to get my girl to her dance class.

Turkey Tomato White Cheddar Melt

Turkey Tomato White Cheddar Melt

For each sandwich (two halves):

  • 1 whole wheat bun, sliced in half, lightly toasted
  • Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade (recipe here)
  • Thinly sliced sweet onion
  • A couple very thin slices natural smoked turkey
  • A slice or two of fresh garden tomato for each side
  • Slices of extra sharp white cheddar cheese
  • A couple large fresh basil leaves (or several smaller ones)

Directions:

  1. Slice each half of the bun with a good layer of roasted pepper tomato tepenade.
  2. Set it on a baking sheet, then arrange several thin slices of sweet onion on top of the tepenade.
  3. Cover with the thin slices of smoked turkey and then a slice or two of tomato (whatever fits!). Top the tomato with a couple slices of white cheddar cheese.
  4. Bake at 400 until the cheese is good and hot and bubbly and melty.
  5. Top with a couple fresh basil leaves. Enjoy!

Turkey Tomato White Cheddar Melt

This recipe was shared at Melt in your Mouth MondayTotally Tasty TuesdayTuesday Talent ShowTasty TuesdayShow & Share WednesdayCast Party WednesdayNewlyweds Recipe LinkyThursday’s Treasures, Friday Food Fight and All my Bloggy Friends.


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.


Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich

on Toasted Ciabatta with Melted Gouda Cheese

Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich on Ciabatta with Gouda

Today I was HUNGRY and needed something substantial. Something with protein. I briefly considered making up a BLT, but I decided I didn’t want to mess with making bacon. I needed something quick so I could get back to work.

So an egg sandwich sounded about right … But I wanted something really tasty that would satisfy my hunger AND my taste buds. Pesto rosso to the rescue! If you haven’t heard of Pesto Rosso, it’s a magical tomato pesto made with sundried tomatoes and almonds. The Foodie Physician introduced me to it. I have had this lovely red pesto several times spread on toast for a snack and reveled in the taste of it each time, but today I thought I would put it to the test in a sandwich.

A few minutes later I was munching on one of the BEST breakfast sandwiches I have ever had. The lovely ciabatta and fresh garden tomato are wonderful, of course, and the sweet pepper and onion certainly pitch in along with the melted gouda cheese, but the Pesto Rosso is what really turns this sandwich from a ho-hum regular run-of-the-mill sandwich … into a sandwich to remember.

Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich on Toasted Ciabatta with Gouda Cheese

Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich

Makes 2 normal-sized breakfast sandwiches or 1 extra large one. I used Gouda cheese from Dofino, since they were so kind as to send me samples.

  • 1 egg
  • About 1 tablespoon of chopped sweet bell pepper (I used yellow … red or green would work too)
  • About 1 tablespoon of chopped sweet onion
  • Several slices of Gouda cheese
  • Ciabatta bread, sliced horizontally (I used my homemade ciabatta)
  • Pesto Rosso (recipe here)
  • Sliced fresh garden tomato

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a small spoonful of cold water till smooth (the water will help keep your egg moist and perfect). Season with Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt) and fresh ground black pepper, then stir in the chopped sweet onion and bell pepper.
  2. Heat your frying pan to medium heat, pour in the egg mixture, reduce heat immediately to medium low. Cover the egg with gouda cheese slices, then set the cover on the pan and let cook, checking frequently, until the egg is cooked through and the cheese is melted. I pushed in some of the edges of the egg to make it into a more manageable size for the sandwich.
  3. While the egg is cooking, cut 2 pieces of ciabatta about the size for half of your egg (or a large piece of ciabatta if you are making a ginormous sandwich), slice them horizontally and toast the bread, then spread the bottom half of the ciabatta with a generous amount of Pesto Rosso. Slide the egg on top of the Pesto Rosso and then add fresh tomato slices and the top half of the ciabatta bread.

Enjoy!

Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich on Toasted Ciabatta with Gouda Cheese

This recipe was shared at Thursday’s TreasuresFull Plate Thursday, Friday FavoritesFit & Fabulous FridaysWeekend PotluckMelt in your Mouth MondayTotally Tasty Tuesday and Kitchen Fun Friday.


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.


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.


Sweet Onion Melted Gouda (SOMG!) BLT

Sweet Onion Melted Gouda Bacon Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich (SOMG BLT!)

This is such an amazing sandwich. It’s really so simple. But it takes the whole concept of Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato to a new level.  All you have to do is add a little bit of sweet onion and some gouda cheese, get that cheese really good and melty and OMG you will be drowning in heaven when you eat your sandwich. So that’s why it’s a Sooo OMG BLT.  SOMG = Sweet Onion Melted Gouda. How sweet is THAT?

The most necessary thing for this sandwich is a fresh-from-the-garden tomato.  If you don’t have a garden (or a friend or relative who has a garden who will share a tomato), one from the farmer’s market will do in a pinch. If you’re going to use a grocery store tomato, just skip this whole idea. Go make something else. Because to get the true essence of a really great BLT, you need a really good fresh garden tomato.

The sweet onion and the melty gouda cheese elevate the bacon and the heavenly homegrown tomato taste and then the mixed greens come along and top it all off with their beauty and crunch. You really must have at least one of these beautiful sandwiches during tomato season … I have had two so far and I’m SO tempted to make another one … SOMG they are SO good!

Sweet Onion Melted Gouda Bacon Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich (Soo OMG BLT)

Sweet Onion Melted Gouda Bacon Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich (SoooOMG BLT!)

For each sandwich:

  • 1 nice thick slice of bread (homemade bread works the best … I used my dad’s whole wheat yogurt bread)
  • 3 slices of lower-fat, naturally smoked, thin-sliced bacon
  • Thinly sliced sweet onion
  • Fresh garden tomato slices
  • A few slices of Gouda cheese (I used Dofino Gouda that they sent me … )
  • Mixed greens

Directions:

  1. Cook the bacon strips to your liking. I like mine a little floppy, but my sisters hate the way I make bacon. My kids love it though. (HA! For once I am validated by my kids.) Use a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to soak up the excess fat from the bacon.
  2. Set the bread on a baking sheet covered with cooking spray. Cover the bread with a layer of bacon, then several slices of the sweet onion, then make sure you cover the whole thing with fresh tomato slices. Cover the tomato with slices of gouda cheese.
  3. Bake at 400 for about 8 – 10 minutes or until the cheese is really good and melted and bubbly.
  4. Remove the sandwiches from the oven and carefully transfer each sandwich to a plate and add a good tumble of mixed greens. Then revel in the joy of a purely wonderful sandwich.

Sweet Onion Melted Gouda Bacon Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich (Soo OMG BLT)

I want to thank Dofino cheese for sending me some of their wonderful Gouda cheese and my amazing friends from the BOHO tribe for helping me name this sandwich! It was Uncle Gary from Uncle Gary’s Gourmet Peppers and Pepper Jelly that thought of this name.

This is an #onionlove post.

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This recipe was also shared at Share it SaturdayScrumptious Sunday, and Totally Tasty Tuesdays.


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.


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.


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.


Hummus Havarti Harvest Pizza

Hummus Havarti Harvest Pizza

I woke up early this morning. There is a chill in the air. It is cool enough to open the windows and to sit on the patio and have a cup of tea. The fresh air smells so wonderful after the stale air conditioned air I’ve been breathing all summer.

There are tomatoes on my little potted tomato plants! Not a lot of them, but enough to give me a little of that wonderful juicy fresh garden tomato taste that you just can’t get from a store. I feel grateful for these beautiful little plants and the pollinators who visited my porch to help create this plump red fruit. I love the soft fuzziness of the vines and the lively fresh tomato scent on my fingers after I touch them.

Tomatoes on the vine

It’s Friday. We will be seeing my parents tomorrow. I feel happy and content.

I made this pizza for lunch the other day. It is such a good pizza to make this time of year when the harvest starts coming in. If I have just a few cherry tomatoes, then I like to use them on pizza to really highlight their pretty color and juicy flavor.

Hummus Havarti Harvest Pizza

Hummus Havarti Harvest Pizza

The smoked Havarti cheese was a gift from Dofino cheese. It is a creamy, soft, smoky cheese that goes so wonderfully on so many things. I’m not giving amounts here because I was making a little individual-sized pizza, but you can easily scale it up to make a full-size pizza for your family.

  • Pizza crust (I used my Zucchini Asiago Whole Wheat Flatbread)
  • Hummus
  • Smoked Havarti cheese, shredded
  • Fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Chopped cucumber
  • Avocado, pitted, peeled, chopped
  • Fresh dill, snipped (or a sprinkle of dried dill would do in a pinch)

Heat the flatbread briefly in the oven at 425, then spread with a thick layer of hummus. Top with the shredded Havarti cheese and the halved cherry tomatoes and then pop it the oven to bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Add a tumble of fresh cucumber and  avocado, then sprinkle with dill and enjoy!

Hummus Havarti Harvest Pizza

This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Tomato BloghopFoodie Friends FridayFit & Fabulous FridaysScrumptious Sunday and Weekend Potluck.


Onion Double Garlic Prosciutto Cream Noodles

with Roasted Tomatoes, Two Cheeses & Fresh Basil

Garlic Prosciutto Cream Noodles with Roasted Tomatoes, Two Cheeses & Fresh Basil

Yikes! I’m caught up a double alphabet challenge! One on facebook that is a daily A-Z health challenge … and then there’s this monthly “Eating the Alphabet” challenge that I just started last month and I really don’t want to miss out on this month since I JUST started.

The monthly “Eat your Alphabet” challenge is focused on the letters M, N, and O this month. Given that I’ve been racking my brain DAILY for “what food starts with this letter”, you think this would be easy, but I’m only on the letter K on the DAILY challenge … and this is a few days ahead of that. I don’t plan that far in advance (most of the time)! I suppose it’s good to think about it now, right? Head start on the daily thing?

So first I thought melon … hey, a watermelon margarita sounds yummy! … but then I spent a couple days gazing at gazillions of amazing photos of garlic and pasta and such, so I had NOODLES on my mind … so I decided to go with something with ONION (for the O) and NOODLES (for the N) … hey that’s a DOUBLE “eat the alphabet” win … and then I threw in another double plus: double garlic! Yeah! This is getting waaay too synergistic now … and then I threw some fresh garden tomatoes and basil on top … just for good measure.

Don’t worry too much over the amount of garlic in here: roasting the garlic makes a very mild, creamy flavor that is just wonderful in the sauce.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention! There’s a bit of zucchini in there too. Cuz, well, I’m all about zucchini lately. I still have two more from my sister to use up and I’m going to my parents’ house soon and they will give me more! We are not through with zucchini mania just quite yet … if you happen to be making this dish outside of zucchini season, I would suggest replacing the zucchini some other mashed cooked winter squash such as pumpkin or butternut.

Garlic Prosciutto Cream Noodles with Roasted Tomatoes, Two Cheeses & Fresh Basil

Onion Double Garlic Prosciutto Cream Noodles

with Roasted Tomatoes, Two Cheeses & Fresh Basil. I think this would serve about 4 people. I have had it for two meals so far and there is still plenty left. It reheats pretty nicely, by the way.

The smoked Havarti cheese was a gift given to me from Dofino cheese. It’s such a good cheese for making the sauce extra creamy because it melts really well and adds a little extra smoky flavor to the dish.

  • 1 head of garlic, roasted
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 of an onion, sliced fine (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled & finely chopped
  • 3 paper-thin slices of prosciutto
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • about 1/4 cup white wine
  • 4 teaspoons of flour
  • 2 cups lowfat milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded Smoked Havarti cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 1 – 2 cups fresh garden tomatoes, chopped
  • a handful of fresh herbs, chopped (I used tarragon, rosemary, thyme and basil)
  • 1/2 lb. angel hair, spaghetti, or linguini pasta (whole grain or gluten free noodles are cool!)
  • Garnish: Fresh, sliced basil leaves + a little freshly shredded asiago

Directions:

  1. Cut the top off the head of garlic, drizzle with a little olive oil, put in a small oven-safe bowl, cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 F. for about an hour or until the garlic is completely soft. Set aside to cool while you start the sauce, but don’t turn the oven off. We’ll be roasting the tomatoes shortly too.
  2. Prepare all your vegies and heat up the water boiling for the pasta.
  3. Spray a skillet pan with cooking spray, then drizzle with a little olive oil and add the onions. Sautee over medium heat till the onions are soft and translucent, add a little wine, cover and cook for a minute, uncover and stir till the wine has evaporated. Repeat this process till the onions are lightly brown and the wine is gone. Remove the pan from the heat just for a moment while you tend to the tomato and pasta.
  4. Set the chopped tomato in a small baking dish coated with cooking spray and set it in the oven to roast while you finish up the sauce. Hopefully the water is boiling by now? Start the pasta cooking. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and mash it with a fork.
  5. Back to the skillet pan: Add the raw garlic, prosciutto and zucchini, set it back on the medium heat and sautee for about 5 minutes longer. Add the mashed garlic and stir it into the brown mess of vegies. It will all look sort of ugly at this point. Don’t despair! It will get prettier.
  6. Add the flour and stir to coat all the vegies in the pan. Lower the heat to medium low and add the milk. Stir until the sauce starts to thicken, then add the cheeses and cook just a few minutes longer till the cheese is melted. Stir in the herbs, reserving some basil for garnish.
  7. Remove the sauce from the heat. Now, the noodles should be about done by now, so drain them, then stir the noodles into the sauce. Put in a serving bowl, top with the roasted tomatoes and garnish with fresh basil and a little shredded asiago. Serve hot.

Onion Double Garlic Prosciutto Cream Noodles

This post is for the Eating the Alphabet challenge

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Click here to see all the other cool recipes in the Alphabet Challenge this month …

This recipe was also shared at Tastetastic Thursday.


Happiness & a Mushroom Tomato Skillet Frittata

Smoky Mushroom & Tomato Skillet Frittata

Last night my facebook page zoomed past 10,000 “likes” when I wasn’t looking. I was out having a glass of wine with my friend, talking out all the things we needed to talk about, sharing things we probably wouldn’t ever tell anyone else.

How did it zoom by without me so quickly? I think it’s because I’ve been doing an A-Z health challenge on my facebook page. Every day there is a letter, you choose one thing that starts with that letter and share the health benefits of your chosen thing. A was Avocado, B was Basil, C was Cilantro, D was Dill. E was Eggs. F was Flax. Yesterday was G and I chose Garlic. Somewhere along the way I invited my foodie friends to join in and share facts or recipes on my page. That’s when things really got fun. Suddenly I wasn’t talking to myself anymore … everyone was joining in and we had such a spread of beautiful recipes and wonderful conversations going on everywhere.

10,063 likes on facebook

Today is the letter H and because I’m so HAPPY, I’ve asked everyone to share what makes them happy. And I thought I better take a minute to share what makes me happy. Each and every one of you that comment, visit, or like me on facebook or Pinterest or twitter: you make me happy. You are what makes all of the time and effort I put into this blog worthwhile.

What makes me happy?

Snuggling, hugs, curling up with my cat, the many shades of green leaves on the trees, joking with my son, hearing my daughter sing, seeing her dance, visiting my parents, talking with my sisters, playing with my nieces and nephews, going for long walks and hikes in beautiful, natural spaces, a text or visit from a friend, yoga, a genuine smile. Art. Live music. Singing. Beautiful architecture. History and Books. Sunrise on the lake.

Beautiful morning at Big Stone Lake

Thunderstorms and rain, rainbows, blue sky, clouds, flowers, sunshine, seeing a deer or beautiful bird or a bat flying in the sky. Dragonflies and butterflies. Mountains. Plants. ANYTHING purple. Looking at the stars somewhere away from the city where you can see so many more of them. Riding on a boat, canoeing, sailing. Swimming. Camping. Dancing. The sound of waves and the feel of water and sand on my toes. Opening the windows and feeling a slight breeze through my house. Travelling. Meeting new people and seeing new things, trying new foods and seeing the world from a different perspective. Coming home. Breathing freely. Being healthy and so grateful to be alive.

A hot cup of chai on a chilly morning, dinner on the patio, a really good smooth dark chocolate. Having a drawer full of different wonderful cheeses, a bottle of wine and several lovely dark beers in my refrigerator. Picking berries, vegetables, herbs or flowers and eating them fresh. Hot soup and the smell of fresh bread baking on a cool or rainy day. Thai food. Or Mexican or Greek or anything funky and ethnic. Baking cinnamon rolls with my daughter, making up new recipes with my son. A beautiful salad. Little toasts! Pizza. Cold sweet ice cream on a hot day. Cooking. Having a handsome man cook for me and rub my back or my feet. Growing herbs. Foraging. Writing and reading and sharing with all of the wonderful foodies that have graced my life with their presence.

Smoky Mushroom & Tomato Skillet Frittata

Smoky Mushroom Tomato Skillet Frittata

Cheese is one of those things that send me into a happy oblivion. Dofino cheese noticed this and sent me a bunch of cheeses. One of the cheeses they sent me was this smoked havarti which is very creamy and has an intense smoky taste, which blends so well with mushroom, tomato and eggs and a bit of smoky bacon.

  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • 2 cups mushrooms
  • 1/4  – 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach or swiss chard
  • A small handful of fresh herbs (basil, oregano, thyme)
  • 2 – 4 eggs (depending on how fluffy you want your frittata … I used 2, but it was a little flat)
  • 1 slice lean bacon, fried crisp, cooled and crumbled or chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (sharp cheddar, smoked havarti, & asiago, mixed)

Directions:

  1. In a skillet pan, melt the butter, then add the mushrooms. Sautee for a few minutes, add the tomato & onion. Cover and cook for a few minutes, then uncover and sautee until the onions are soft. Add the spinach and sautee briefly until wilted.
  2. Put the vegies in a bowl, mix with the herbs, and set aside. Clean out the pan. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with a spoonful of water for each egg. Sprinkle with Red Robin Seasoning (or just salt) and freshly ground pepper.
  3. Heat the skillet to medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Pour in the eggs and let them cook for just a moment to start setting up. Quickly spread the vegie mixture over the eggs, sprinkle with bacon and top with the shredded cheese. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and let cook till the cheese is melted. Remove from heat and serve immediately in wedges.

Smoky Mushroom & Tomato Skillet Frittata

What makes you happy? I would love to know!

This recipe was shared at Share It SaturdaysScrumptious SundaysRecipe of the WeekKatherine Martinelli’s Tomato Bloghop and Everyday Mom’s Meals.


Tarragon Sunflower Roasted Vegetables

with breadcrumbs & aged Dubliner (or Asiago) cheese

Tarragon Sunflower Roasted Vegetables

The first time I made these scrumptious vegetables was an attempt to spruce up some of the excess vegies left over from the Blogiversary party. That time I used celery, carrots, cauliflower, onion and grape tomatoes and topped them with whole wheat breadcrumbs and Dubliner cheese. It was so good I gobbled them all up and still wanted more.

I decided I had to try this again with different vegetables. This time I used zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, cauliflower, tomato, and onion with Asiago cheese in place of the Dubliner. I think you could use any combination of vegetables that you have on hand, although I would recommend including both onion and tomato in the mix.

Tarragon Sunflower Roasted Vegetables

Tarragon Sunflower Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • About 4 cups of mixed, chopped vegetables (make sure you include some onion and tomato!)
  • About 3 Tablespoons of mixed fresh herbs (mostly tarragon! … I used tarragon with a bit of sage, dill, basil, thyme and oregano)
  • Red robin seasoning and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (whole wheat is good!)
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Dubliner or Asiago cheese (or other sharp cheese such as Romano or Parmesan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons of sunflower seeds

Directions:

  1. Mix the olive oil and garlic in a small bowl and set aside while you are chopping up your vegies and herbs. Let the garlic hang out in the oil for at least 15 minutes so the oil gets a good infusion going on.
  2. Chop up your vegies into chunks, and your herbs into fine bits. In a mixing bowl, toss the vegies with the garlic-infused olive oil and the herbs.
  3. In a separate smaller bowl, toss the breadcrumbs with the shredded cheese and Italian seasoning.
  4. Spray a 9×9 inch square pan with cooking spray and spread the oiled vegies out evenly in the pan. Top with the seasoned cheesy breadcrumb mixture and then sprinkle with sunflower seeds.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 15 – 20 minutes or until the vegies are tender. Serve immediately as a side dish … your side dish may just steal the show! These vegies also make an awesome sandwich piled on a bun with a good cheese melted all over.

Tarragon Sunflower Roasted Vegetables

This recipe was shared at Scrumptious Sunday and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


Cucumber Pesto Buttermilk Salad

Cucumber Buttermilk Pesto Salad with Feta & Pinons

This is one of those salads that came to me in the middle of the night.  I was trying to think of something different to do with cucumbers beyond the regular cucumber salads … hadn’t come up with anything, but then about 3 a.m., I woke up and thought “Pesto! Pesto would be awesome on cucumbers!” So yeah, I guess I never stop thinking about food, even when I’m sleeping.

I have a bunch of English cucumbers my mom gave me from her garden. They are the BEST cucumbers, so crunchy and sweet, tiny little seeds that are never too big, and no sharp bitter taste at all. She had brought in a box of them and said to me “this is today’s pick … tomorrow we will have another bunch like this. So you may as well take them all.”

I found a bit of buttermilk in my fridge and thought I should use that up, so I mixed it with the pesto along with some yogurt to make the dressing. Together they made this lovely creamy blend that made me smile. I had actually intended to put some chickpeas in this salad as well, but I completely forgot about them until the salad was gone. Oh well, the chickpeas will go into something else!

Cucumber Buttermilk Pesto Salad

Cucumber Pesto Buttermilk Salad

with Tomato, Feta Cheese and Pinons

Salad:

  • 2  cups chopped English cucumber (or other fresh garden cucumber … )
  • 1  cup cherry tomatoes, halved, or chopped fresh tomato
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Pinons, toasted
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (if desired)

Dressing:

  • 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons pesto (my recipe is here)

Chop up the cucumber and toss them in a bowl with the tomatoes, saving a few tomatoes for garnish on top of the salad. Mix up the buttermilk, yogurt and pesto till smooth and then toss the cucumber/tomato mixture with enough dressing to just coat the vegies. Top with feta cheese crumbles, pinons, the reserved tomatoes and fresh basil leaves and serve.

Cucumber Buttermilk Pesto Salad

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous FridaysSummer Salad Sundays and Raw Food Recipes.


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