Garden · Home · New Favorite

Layered Baked Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a vegetable side dish filled with wonderful flavors.  Every time I say the word ‘Ratatouille’ I have to smile and think of the Disney animated film Ratatouille. The young rat, Remy, dreams of becoming a famous French chef.  Such a funny film, great to watch with children, grandchildren or in the privacy of your own adult home…no one needs to know you’re watching a cartoon!

Celebrate after watching the film by enjoying the real deal!

LAYERED BAKED RATATOUILLE

2 cups (16 oz.) crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dry) (plus more for sprinkling)
½ tsp. salt (plus more for sprinkling)
¼ tsp. pepper (plus more for sprinkling)
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced*
2 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced*
2 small eggplant, thinly sliced*
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1” squares
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese, to top (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Spread 1 tbsp. olive oil in the bottom of a 9 inch cast iron skillet. In a small bowl, mix the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the base of your skillet.
  • Layer the sliced vegetables vertically around the skillet, packing them as tight as you can. (We find that it is easier to layer the zucchini, squash, and eggplant in the skillet and then go back in and tuck the red peppers within the layers after the other vegetables have been filled in.)
  • Season the top of the vegetables with additional salt, pepper, and thyme. Drizzle with more olive oil.
  • Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly and the vegetables are softened and starting to brown slightly.
  • Garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Recipe from Curiouscuisinere.com

Garden · New Favorite

Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Unique Zucchini recipes are always of interest to me and this Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Zucchini Break did not disappoint.  Breads, cakes and cookies with rolled oats are a favorite, now adding coconut and chocolate…what’s not to like!

OATMEAL COCONUT CHOCOLATE CHIP ZUCCHINI BREAD

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat white flour (may be substituted with all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup coconut sugar (may be substituted with granulated or brown sugar)
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled (may be substituted with canola oil)
2 large eggs
2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a standard size loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Whisk together the oats, flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and coconut oil vigorously, until foamy, about 1 minute. Add the zucchini, coconut, and chocolate chips and stir until combined.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir just until incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan, and cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

Recipe from Flavorthemoments.com

 

 

Garden · New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetarian

Cherry Tomato Jam

Sungold cherry tomatoes have become our family’s favorite tomatoes, eating them off the wine as a treat.  They are so sweet and incredibly delicious. Just perfect for Cherry Tomato Jam. 

Each year I seem to have an abundance of tomatoes, making salads with them, roasting them with peppers and garlic and much more.  Tomato Jam recipes were popping up this year and I decided to try it.  It’s so easy and delicious.  I haven’t tried to can it because it disappears from the frig long before the expiration date.  Serve it on a crusty bread or on top of a soft cheese.  I also made a Grilled Cheese with a schmeer of tomato jam.  YUMMO!

CHERRY TOMATO JAM

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
32 ounces (2 lbs.) cherry tomatoes (about 2 1/2 pints)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 large spring thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Heat the olive oil in a large stainless steel or non-reactive pot over medium heat.  Add the shallot and garlic and sauté for 3-5 minutes until softened.
  • Add the chili powder and smoked paprika and sauté 30 seconds more.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring often, until the tomatoes burst and thicken, for about 10-15 minutes.  If at any time the pan becomes dry and the tomatoes begin to burn, add a tablespoon or two more of water and reduce the heat a bit more.
  • Remove from heat and season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.  Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 10-14 days.

 

 

Garden · My Roots · Vegan · Vegetarian

Wild Plum Jam

Wild Plums are a new discovery for me. A few weeks ago,  I was on a walk with my granddaughter when we saw these pretty purple, red and yellow fruit growing in the open space.  I brought a few back to house and identified them.  Wild Plums!  My daughter and her family walked to open space to pick several pounds of fruit. We were cautiously optimistic and decided to make a trial batch from the few ripe plums.  We left the skins on for the trial. It was delicious but and we did not like the texture of the cooked skins.

A week later, the rest of the plums were ripe and we decided to make and can the jam, using a food strainer to remove the skins.  My Mom’s trusty food strainer did the trick!

Vintage Sieve and Pistle

The jam is pretty and tart.  I can’t wait to try it on  breakfast toast, pancakes, or perhaps with a mild cheese.

Finding these little gems caused interest in the history of the wild plum and how Native Americans and our ancestors may have used them.  Wild Plums appear to grow in many states. The Minnesota Conservation Volunteer published an interesting history.

WILD PLUM JAM

5 pounds Wild Plums
5 cups sugar (the original recipe called for 10 cups of sugar)
4.5 tablespoons lemon juice

  • Pit the plums and place them into a thick bottomed pot.
  • Add in the lemon juice and cook for a few minutes, until the plums begin to release their juices.
  • Add in sugar and stir.  Simmer, stirring often for about 10 minutes.1/2 to compensate for the naturally sweeter fruit.
  • When the jam thickens, pour the hot jam into a food sieve.  Press to remove the juice and pulp.  Discard the remaining skins.  Put back on heat to assure the jam returns to temperature.
  • Pour the hot jam into prepared canning jars.  At this point, the jam can either be stored in the refrigerator or processed for 10 minutes in a water bath canner.
  • After a 10 minute process, turn off the heat, wait 5 more minutes and then remove the jars from the canner.
  • Allow the jars to cool, and after 24 hours place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks.

Recipe adapted from Earthfoodandfire.com

Garden · New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetarian

Sweet Yellow Squash Pickles

Zucchini is normally the vegetable that you are drowning in by the end of summer.  This year it was yellow squash.  After making two batches of Lemon Yellow Summer Squash Bread and roasting pans of mixed garden vegetables, I moved on to a new recipe for Sweet Yellow Squash Pickles.  My Mother always made Bread & Butter Pickles and I loved them.  These are very similar and quite delicious.  A new favorite for my yellow squash harvest!

SWEET YELLOW SQUASH PICKLES

4 small yellow squash – cut in thin (1/4-inch slices or less); about 3 cups
1/2 cup thinly slices red onion
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon dry mustard

  • In a large non-metal bowl, combine the squash and onion. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables and stir to combine. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Then, drain the liquid from the vegetables.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and dry mustard. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the squash and onion mixture and then return to boiling.
  • Remove from heat. Ladle the hot vegetables and liquid into sterilized canning jars.
  • At this point, the jars can be processed for long-term canning or covered and stored as-is in the refrigerator for up to one month.
  • Chill at least 24 hours before serving.

Recipe from Inspiredbycharm.com 

DIY · Family Favorites · Garden · Home · My Roots · Vegan · Vegetarian

Easy Dill Pickles

My Mother always grew a large garden and had a plentiful canning room in the basement with many types of pickles, tomatoes, corn, green beans, chicken, beef, peaches, pears, apples,  jams. jelly, and more.  What she didn’t can, she froze.  I fondly remember the annual family gathering to pick, husk, parboil, cut and pack sweet corn for the freezer.  How wonderful to enjoy this bounty during the long, cold Iowa winters.

This year I had a plentiful harvest of cucumbers. With the first hard freeze shortly after Labor Day,  I had to pick most the produce, including many cucumbers.  I made my Mom’s Easy Dill Pickle recipe and it didn’t disappoint. The addition of fresh garlic to the second batch will be a new twist!

EASY DILL PICKLES

Medium Cucumber, sliced into spears or slices
Fresh dill
White vinegar
Water
Salt
Alum
Optional:  Peeled cloves of garlic

  • Wash medium size cucumbers and pack in canning quart jars.  Add fresh dill to the top (stem and all).  Place 1/4 teaspoon alum in the top of each quart jar of cucumbers.
  • Boil canning lids and rings in a separate pot.
  • Mix 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water.  To each quart of liquid add 4 tablespoons salt. Heat liquid to boiling point.  Pour liquid, while hot, over pickles.
  • Immediately place lids and rings on each jar.Let stand until cool.  Check to assure lid has sealed. Let the pickles sit in the brine for a few days/weeks. Store in a cool place.
  • I’ve also made these pickles and just placed in the frig, skipping the canning process.
Family · Garden · Home · Home

Our Robin Adventure

May 7,  I stepped onto my front porch and noticed a few unsightly weeds hanging from my front porch light.  I pulled them down and went about my day.  The next morning, lo and behold, there was a beautiful nest perched on top of the porch light.

I marveled at the intelligence of Mama and Papa Robin, selecting a nest site that was under the cover of the porch and warmed by the light 24x 7 because they built the nest over the light sensor!

On May 12, the eggs started to appear, first two, then a total of 5.  The Colorado May weather was unusually cold so Mama was on the nest most of the time.

 

Mama Robin lays her eggs May 12-15

Excitement was building as our family watched the Robin’s nest with great anticipation.  The grandkids were so excited to see photos and watch the wonder of nature.

Fifteen days later the eggs started to hatch, one by one.  To be able to see (never touch) these sweet babies up close was amazing.  The nest was too tall to actually look into the nest, iphone photos and video to the rescue (centering of the photos was often an issue).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mama and Daddy Robin were consumed with feeding these hungry babies and they became very protective whenever we stepped out on the porch, swooping by and touching my hair to give warning.

Eleven days after the first hatch, two of the babies flew from the nest.

June 8: Two babies prepare to leave the nest

Mama was talking to them and away they went.  A few days later the last two babies also left the nest.  Their soaring abilities were very good and I hope they have learned to soar and be safe.

In the meantime, the grandkids are disappointed that the birds are gone, as am I.  Thank you, Mother Nature, for the great adventure and we hope we’ll have the opportunity again next year.

Below is a link to a short video of our Robin Adventure.

Family · Family Favorites · Garden · New Favorite

Lemon Yellow Summer Squash Bread

When yellow squash and zucchini are plentiful and I’ve made every possible recipe, I go to the web and try to find something different to make.  This bread was a phenomenal find. I’ve always been fond of lemon cake and this bread is addictive. No, you can’t have just one slice, I guarantee it!

IMG_7593

LEMON YELLOW SUMMER SQUASH BREAD

There is no reason you couldn’t substitute zucchini in this recipe; would be pretty with the green zucchini and yellow lemon zest!  I did not make the Sweet Roasted Lemon Garnish).
Serves: 2 loaves

1 cup melted butter
2 cups sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups grated summer squash

For the Glaze:

1 Tbsp. melted butter
½ cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest

For the Sweet Roasted Lemon Garnish (edible and optional!):

1 lemon, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, seeds removed
½ tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. olive oil

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Grease and flour 2 regular loaf pans or 4 mini pans.
  • Mix butter, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla until well blended.
  • Add eggs one at a time and once all are incorporated beat for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Sift flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and mix thoroughly.
  • Add squash and stir just to blend.
  • Pour into prepared pans and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes for small loaf pans or 1 hour for regular size loaf pans.
  • Allow the pan to cool; remove the bread and place top down on a serving plate (makes for a nice presentation for the glaze and lemons).
Make the Roasted Lemons:
  • Cook lemon slices in a medium saucepan of boiling water 2 minutes to remove bitterness. Drain and pat dry.
  • Gently toss lemon slices with sugar, and 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium bowl. Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until lemons are no longer wet and only slightly colored, 15–20 minutes. Let cool.
Make the Glaze:
  • Combine the melted butter and powdered sugar and stir until smooth; add the lemon juice and lemon zest and stir to combine.
  • Add water or milk if necessary to get the right consistency.
  • Pour the glaze over the top; covering it completely and letting excess dribble down the sides.
  • Arranged sweet, roasted lemons on top.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe from CreativeCulinary.com

Family · Garden · Home · New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetarian

Roasted Tomato, Sausage and Pesto Sauce

Fall brings the bounty of tomatoes, basil and much more. Older daughter, Megan, told me about a roasted tomato and pesto sauce she made. I tweaked it a bit to serve my tastes. I love the idea of adding pesto to a rich, red tomato sauce. It was delicious and definitely a new recipe for my collection.

ROASTED TOMATO AND PESTO SAUCE

1 pound Italian sausage, cooked and drained
3 cups roasted tomatoes and peppers, cooled and blended (recipe below)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, diced
Cube of pesto (about 1/3 cup)
26.5 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, chopped or blended
1 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped basil
1 pound cooked pasta (I used bow tie pasta) and 1 cup of pasta water
Parmesan Cheese (optional)

  • Core and slice tomatoes. Halve and remove seeds from peppers.
  • Arrange the tomatoes and peppers on a heavy cookie sheet (I line with parchment paper).  Drizzle with Avocado oil and sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt.
  • Roast at 400 degrees until the edges of the vegetables start to char and are cooked through.
  • Blend the mixture to a smooth consistency.
  • Cook and drain the sausage. Drain and set aside.
  • Sauté onions in olive oil and when almost cooked through, add the garlic. Continue to salute until garlic is cooked through.
  • Add roasted tomatoes and peppers, pesto, San Marzano tomatoes, water, basil and sausage.
  • Heat thoroughly.
  • Add 1 cup of pasta water to sauce. Stir.  Add drained, cooked pasta, and stir to mix thoroughly.
  • Serve with Parmesan cheese.
Garden · New Favorite

Chicken Pozole with Tomatillos

Tomatillos are plentiful this year so I’m always up for trying a new recipe. I love my standard Posole recipe with pork, but liked this idea with chicken and tomatillos. Tomatillos have almost a citrus-like taste to them so it pairs well with chicken and pozole.

The soup was great fresh and I’ve frozen a large batch for a cold winter’s night!

CHICKEN POSOLE WITH TOMATILLOS

1 pound tomatillos
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups chopped onion
1 pounds chicken, skinned (I used 2 cups of cooked, chopped chicken vs. raw)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and quartered
1 (30-ounce) can white hominy, drained
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream (optional)
8 lime wedges (optional)