Tag Archives: tomatoes

One More Way to Keep
Your Home Cool in the Summer:
Quinoa, Cucumber, Tomato Salad

Double-feature bonus posts this week! My offering to you, Dear Reader, for being a faithful audience. Enjoy!

A few years ago, I found myself buying one of those cup-salads from Whole Foods a lot in the summer. I liked it so much I figured I should start making it, so I can (a)get it without cilantro and (b)stop feeling like such a yuppie for buying a salad I could clearly reverse-engineer to make myself. Now when I’m up for more than throwing together some greens with nuts (read: up for more chopping), I’ll use this mix as the base recipe and improvise from there. I was actually pretty surprised when I couldn’t find a blog entry for this. Perhaps because it’s so straightforward, it didn’t feel like a recipe. This week’s weather in Seattle is sneaking up to the mid-80s, which counts as hot, so here’s a good option for those hot late Summer days when you don’t want to add another degree to your house by turning on cooking appliances. Air conditioning is a luxury, yo.

Quinoa, Cucumber and Tomato Salad (+Avocado)
Jumping-off point: Spicy Quinoa, Cucumber and Tomato Salad by Martha Rose Shulman (NYTimes) Continue Reading

Beat the Heat: Part Zillion!
Zucchini Basil Salad

Fresh back from a cross-country road trip through 4 national parks, three rolls of campfire-cooked Pillsbury products, and too many kinds of 80+-degree weather, I give you…

Cold Zucchini Basil Salad
A variation from simply real health I googled after a random Instagram find.

Ingredients:
1 large heirloom tomato, sliced into bite-sized pieces
3-4 zucchini total (prefer a mix of green and yellow summer squash)
1/4 c goat cheese
A handful of basil, rolled and chopped into ribbons
olive oil (the highest quality you have on hand)
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 fresh lemon
1/4 c slivered almonds

Steps:
1. With a vegetable peeler, thinly scrape the zucchini and summer squash into long ribbon slices, tossing the seedy core, or saving it for a Sunday frittata mix.
2. Add the ribbons to a bowl, season with sea salt* and pepper*, basil, drizzle with olive oil* per preference. [*NOTE: if you want salad for later, pack the zucchini separate from the olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice to keep the crunch, and combine just before eating]. Toss to mix.

Ribboned zucchini with salt 'n' pepper.
Ribboned zucchini with salt ‘n’ pepper.

Continue Reading

Chef Crusoe the Dachshund on Bruschetta

File this one under: Entertaining Videos for Your Monday Commute
I even timed it so the East Coasters might get it in time..

While I have a special place in my heart for Martin Yan’s video from Saveur on how to make Cong You Bing (Scallion Pancakes), the latest food video I am captivated by is this one of Chef Crusoe the Dachshund, teaching you how to make bruschetta!  Saw a link to it from the Daily Meal a few days ago. This post is just to help spread the word more. I sent it straight to my friend at Wag Work Wine as soon as I saw it -perfect intersection of doggy adorable-ness and wine-related hosting tip! Entertainingly, I am also now convinced I should finally add bruschetta to my list of potential hosting recipes.

WARNING: you may end up watching a zillion youtube videos after this, with titles such as “Crusoe the Dachshund’s Bahamas Sailing Vacation.” Maybe you have a long commute?

“Chardegg Cakes” Revisited

I’ve made several different sets of this since the first time I shared this recipe (click here for the first post on it), and both settled on a preferred base of ingredients, and eaten enough of them to stop making them for a while (what, about a month of eating them every weekday is not enough?) I have put in my additional updates in blue font below.

the last iteration of tasty egg cups (a.k.a. mini-quiche).
the last iteration of tasty egg cups (a.k.a. mini-quiche).

Chardegg Cakes for Breakf*st

*So fast you can eat it while you run out the door and skip the ‘a’.
Original inspiration from: Paleo Living Magazine‘s Paleo Kale and Chives Egg Muffins + I Breathe I’m Hungry’s Swiss Chard & Ricotta Pie.

Ingredients:
4 eggs
1/4 cup almond milk
1 cup chard, finely chopped (or whatever palatable veggie you have on hand such as kale, finely-diced broccoli, zucchini, etc).
1/4 c onions, finely chopped
1 roma tomato, sliced
1/2 tsp minced garlic (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
6 slices very thinly cut deli ham, or plus coconut oil to grease cupcake cups

Steps:
1. Sauté onions 4 minutes on medium, add garlic (optional), fry 1 minute more until garlic is golden.
2. Grease 6 cupcake molds with coconut oil, line thinly with half a ham slice in each cup.
3. Whisk together eggs, almond milk, chard, and onion-garlic mix.
4. Filled 6 cups with mixture, top with one tomato slice each.
5. Bake 30 minutes, then pop out egg cups to eat for the week.
Storage Note: if you make a double portion, these also freeze for a pretty decent breakfast later (defrost the day before you want to eat them). If you are a toaster oven devotee, you can pop them in to toast and it crisps them right up.

Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
 4 of 5 stars.
The is the second round, I may update if I find the ham was even better (or maybe tasted more virtuous to eat than turkey bacon, which may or may not be better for you than using prosciutto).
Likelihood of Repeat: 98%
This has been a household hit too, increasing the chances of repeat. It’s also so portable and satisfyingly filling!
Lesson Learned: Just always oil the pan, otherwise you’ll be scraping forever and ruining the finish on your cupcake mold. Also, they are so much prettier with tomato slices on top (and the egg rises through it when baked, neato).

I feel like using thinly sliced ham is both less fattening than prosciutto and less of a waste of prosciutto (and less tedious than pressing sausage into the molds).

 

Sunday Prep Day:
Chardegg Cakes for Breakf*st

Dear Readers,
I hope you enjoyed the guest blogs! Many thanks to both Alex and Kris for their generous contributions. In honor of the J_______ brothers’ penchant for delicious chicken dinners, check out HuffPo’s “8 Chicken Dinners that are Anything But Boring,” Relatedly, I may share a lettuce wrap combo in a later blog too.

New year, new plans!
This is a recipe I’ve been trying out in my efforts to build more muscle, to pack some protein into breakfast. I imagine my paleo friends will approve.
Breakfast is the most logical target for amping up nutrition to me. It has the highest chances of getting the fatty parts burned off in the day, and often follows a workout (timing recommended by fitness sources from the internets). My usual oatmeal (or quinoa) and fruit -or the under-nourishing half a grapefruit with sugar- were getting a little stale anyway. How to combat the morning time crunch? By cooking up a storm on Sundays for the next week!
You’ll laugh, but the first sign of minor minor success? Not having trouble opening sticky garlic jars from the fridge! …lately, at least..

Left: cups are prepped and ready for baking. Top right: sauteed onions. Bottom right: turkey bacon...still bacon.
Left: cups are prepped and ready for baking. Top right: sauteed onions. Bottom right: turkey bacon…still bacon.

Chardegg Cakes for Breakf*st
*So fast you can eat it while you run out the door and skip the ‘a’.
Original inspiration from: Paleo Living Magazine‘s Paleo Kale and Chives Egg Muffins + I Breathe I’m Hungry’s Swiss Chard & Ricotta Pie.

Ingredients:
4 eggs
1/4 cup almond milk
1 cup chard, finely chopped
1/4 c onions, finely chopped
1 roma tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
6 slices turkey bacon, or coconut oil to grease cupcake cups

Steps:
1. Sauté onions 4 minutes on medium, add garlic, fry 1 minute more until garlic is golden.
2. Grease 6 cupcake molds with coconut oil or lay out turkey bacon in each cup.
3. Whisked together eggs, almond milk, chard, and onion-garlic mix.
4. Filled 6 cups with mixture, top with tomato bits.
5. Bake 30 minutes, then pop out egg cups to eat for the week.
Storage Note: if you make a double portion, these also freeze for a pretty decent breakfast later (defrost the day before you want to eat them). If you are a toaster oven devotee, you can pop them in to toast and it crisps them right up.

Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
 4 of 5 stars.
The is the second round, I may update if I find the ham was even better (or maybe tasted more virtuous to eat than turkey bacon, which may or may not be better for you than using prosciutto).
Likelihood of Repeat: 90%
This has been a household hit too, increasing the chances of repeat. It’s also so portable and satisfyingly filling.
Lesson Learned: Yes, there is such a thing as too much kale.
Also: you burn through a lot of eggs when you’re trying to eat more protein. See below for other variations I’ve tried. Check out the update on this recipe from March!

The finished product mid-bite.
The finished product mid-bite.

Other variations:
Italian sausage lining instead of turkey bacon – I tried this and found it too fatty-feeling. Plus, I am not a big fan of the fennel seeds in italian sausage mix.

Prosciutto lining – Ironically, this felt less fattening, since the prosciutto crisps up nicely, and makes the “muffins” easy to hold. However, I didn’t feel I could justify eating prosciutto for breakfast every single weekday.

Just egg, no liner – Boring, but functional if you don’t want to spend on more meat than egg protein.
Kale instead of chard – I tried this one, but accidentally put too much kale in. It is much better with tomato on top for a little variety in flavor. Chard seemed to bake a little softer.

Salsa or ketchup on the side – if you find whatever combo you’ve made a little bland, salsa can perk things up –or ketchup, if you are up for the added sugar. The American kid in me says, “ketchup makes everything better!”

Panzanella: no-cook recipe #3 for the summer heat

So I was looking for a swift way to use all the tomato loot from my garden in the warm summer days, while still getting the individual flavors of them..

IMG_0963.JPG

Cribbed and modified from Ina Garten’s Panzanella recipe from Food network.

Ingredients
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups) 1.5 cups croutons
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (used a mix of heirloom cherokee purple, cherry tomatoes and a couple romas)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Added: avocado, chopped in large chunks
3 tablespoons capers, drained (I don’t like capers)
For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar sherry vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Steps
0. Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

1. For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
2. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
3 of 5 stars.
This was a nice, relatively low maintenance way to still be able to see the different kinds of tomatoes I put in and the pretty colors from the cherokee purples.
Likelihood of Repeat: 30%
I think there might be too much delicious salty crouton in this recipe for it to be good for me, plus they get soggy after a little bit so this is not a salad for next day unless you separate things out. Plus, I almost never have bread around to make croutons or buy croutons or basil on their own..
Lesson Learned: meh.

Heat Wave, Part II:
Gazpacho!

Mark Bitterman’s Gazpacho recipe and some tips from my friend K_______ got me to try making gazpacho about a year ago, and tonight’s continued hot humid weather in the Northwest called for a revisit of cooking without heating elements. Unfortunately, I failed at that last bit, since I like my onions and garlic sautéed instead of raw and heart burn-y. See modified recipe below. But you, my friend, could make it with raw garlic and onions if you so desired, and even without the bread if you wanted to go Paleo or gluten-free (although cave men didn’t have blenders).

The only heat required is from the motor in the blender.
The only heat required is from the motor in the blender.

Gazpacho, Fast and Simple

Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 25 minutes

Ingredients:
2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped, or one (today: fresh beefsteaks)
28-ounce can (include the juices)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded if you like, and chopped
2 or 3 slices bread, a day or two old, crusts removed, torn into small pieces (today: a toasted leftover hamburger bun from July 4)
1 /4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar, or more to taste
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 Tbs minced red onions
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Optional: sliced scallions for garnish, and/or dollop of greek yogurt (skipped the latter this time, but it would be tasty)

Steps
0. Lightly saute onions and garlic for a few minutes on stovetop with olive oil and butter.
1. Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, bread, oil, vinegar, onions and garlic with 1 cup water in a blender; process until smooth. If the gazpacho seems too thick, thin with additional water.
2. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately (or refrigerate and serve within a couple of hours), garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and scallions or greek yogurt if desired.

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 2 of 5 stars.
Made this once before without the bread a year ago, I liked it better this time. I’m hoping the novelty will really kick in in the next few days when I am still eating delicious chilled gazpacho without turning on the stove on a hot day.
Likelihood of Repeat: 75%
I ended up with enough for 4 more individual meals, so I’m looking forward to finding out how it does frozen and defrosted later.
Lesson Learned: Less complicated than it feels to grab a ladder and retrieve the blender from the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet..

Cauliflower & Sausage Casserole

The Kitchn’s Cauliflower Sausage Casserole caught my eye since it did not for once call for loads of cheese, per your traditional Midwestern casserole (er, ‘hot dish’) style. While loads of cheese is delicious, it’s arguably not the healthiest for you, and definitely not the best for lactose-intolerant yours truly. The Kitchn’s version used chicken sausage, but I just went with standard italian sausage for flavor, especially as it wasn’t that big a proportion of the whole thing.

Ingredients marshalled:
CauliflowerSausageCasserole1

Procedure:
The Kitchn’s Cauliflower Sausage Casserole steps. I didn’t alter them at all. I served it atop quinoa. You could definitely make it without the parmesan entirely too.

blanch, saute, saute, saute, bake.
blanch, saute, saute, saute, bake.

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
Looks so familiar and homey, but doesn’t make my stomach upset!
Likelihood of Repeat: 20%
There were too many partial-cook steps in this, part of the point of a casserole is that you put it all in the dish and bake the crap out of it (the other part of the point is that it may involve leftovers). If I’m going to be blanching cauliflower before baking it, then I might as well just directly roast it in the oven like I usually do (with butter, olive oil, and later lemon and mustard). This recipe was good, but just not remarkable enough for me to add it to the regular rotation.
Lesson Learned: Procedure and time spent ratio to delicious reviews from consumers can be way out of wack. Sigh.

Served over quinoa.
Served over quinoa.

Lamb Stew with Butternut Squash & Carrots

April can be a dreary time of year in the Pacific Northwest, when the reason behind the existence of a cozy coffee shop on every other street corner becomes apparent. This Sunday afternoon’s anticipation of spring warmth was salved with trying out this lamb stew recipe, with a side of netflix marathon. I don’t think I’ve ever tried cooking lamb at home, but starting with it in cubed stewed form seemed a good way to start. Got a chance to break in a recently acquired dutch oven (ostensibly bought for car camping cake purposes).

Lamb Stew with Butternut Squash & Carrots
Altered a minuscule degree from: Food 52’s Lamb Stew
Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pound lamb shoulder, in 1-inch cubes
Salt
1medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped carrots (added more, I lurve stewed carrots)
2 4 cloves garlic, chopped (anything with 2 cloves of garlic, is worth making with 4!)
28 ounces chopped tomatoes (I cheated with canned. In the winter they seem to have more flavor than fresh tomatoes..)
2 cups beef stock
2 sprigs thyme 2 tsp dried thyme
1 sprig rosemary 1 tsp dried rosemary
2 cups cubed butternut squash (1/2-inch)
1/2 tsp butter

Ingredients marshalled: sear meat, set aside, saute other stuff, pour on tomatoes and herbs, simmer 2 hours, add butternut squash.
Ingredients marshalled: sear meat, set aside, saute other stuff, pour on tomatoes and herbs, simmer 2 hours, add butternut squash.

Procedure
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a Dutch oven or saucepan with a lid heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the lamb with salt, and when the oil is hot, brown half of the cubes on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove lamb to a plate with a slotted spoon and add more oil if necessary. Brown the rest of the lamb and then set aside.
2. On medium low, add butter, the onions, carrots and garlic to pot. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.
3. Add the tomatoes, stock, herbs and the browned lamb, along with any juices that have accumulated. Bring the stew to a boil over high heat, stirring gently with a wooden spoon to get up all the brown tasty bits from the bottom of the pot.
4. When the stew comes to a boil, cover the pot and put in the oven. Cook until the lamb is just tender, 2 to 3 hours. Optional: in the mean time, cook some brown rice, and/or butter some naan and add garlic powder and bake. It took me about 2 hours for the lamb to start falling apart.
5. Stir the butternut squash into the stew, re-cover it and return the pot to the oven until the squash is tender, another 20 to 25 minutes. Optional: serve with rice or naan.

This was a nice way to try out the new cast iron dutch oven I got. Now all I have to do is lift some weights so it isn’t so heavy any more. It was pretty difficult to put away left overs without being able to lift it with one arm. I also cheated a bit, using dried herbs, and snagging a box of pre-cut butternut squash from Whole Foods rather than sawing through my own whole squash. Looking forward to being set for a main dish for the next day or two..or three or four. Three other ways I thought of eating this in leftover form, in case you have a skewed mouth-to-portions-available situation like I did:

  • add chickpeas, roll in naan bread toasted with butter and garlic,
  • pour on top of pasta and top with parmesan cheese,
  • saute some thickly-sliced zucchini and onions and mix it in (the tomato cuts some bitterness of the zucchini),
  • freeze in single portions for a day when you have time to defrost but none to cook and want a hearty meal
  • stuff some puff pastry with the stew and bake until golden.
3-4 hours later: stew complete!
3-4 hours later: stew complete!

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
4 of 5 stars.
Looks so familiar, but everything is slightly different! Orange you glad I tried it, just so I could make that pun?
Likelihood of Repeat: 70%
Mmm, nothing quite like filling your house with the smell of savory stew on a lazy Sunday. This is relatively low maintenance with darn high benefit/yield, so I definitely would like to make it again.
Lesson Learned: “2 to 3 hours” + “20-25” + prep = 3-5 hours of total process time?! Better get a full season of tv watching ready, or maybe a good book.