Family Favorites · Garden

Mediterranean Feta Dip

Mediterranean Food is so fresh and delicious.  Daughter, Sarah, has made this recipe many times with rave reviews.  I decided to make it but add diced cucumber, making this more like a Greed Salad.  Using fresh Feta cheese, in block form, allows the cheese to absorb the olive oil and seasoning.  My family agrees that the cucumber takes this dip to a new level.  If you like Greek olives, you could add those as well.  I served with Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips.  Scrumptious!

MEDITERRANEAN FETA DIP

1/3 cup olive oil
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
4-5 green onions, sliced thinly
1/2 diced English cucumber
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (I used fresh block Feta)
2-3 teaspoons Cavender’s Greek seasoning
fresh baguette, sliced thinly or Pita chips
optional balsamic vinegar

  • On a large platter drizzle olive oil until you have a thin layer on the entire platter. You may use more or less here depending on your preference.
  • Add the tomatoes, green onions, and feta on top of the olive oil. Sprinkle with the Greek seasoning to taste.
  • With a spoon carefully combine the ingredients. We found that we like a little drizzle of balsamic vinegar on top. If desired, drizzle a little balsamic on top.
  • Serve with warm sliced baguettes for scooping up the dip.

Recipe modified from the-girl-who-ate-everything.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.

 

 

New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetarian

Baked Stuffed Avocados…yummo!

Baked Avocado…a new adventure for me and I loved it. The idea of using avocado as the binding ingredient for quinoa, tomato, cheese was great and included all ingredients I love. This recipe is worth experimenting with and can easily be adapted for a vegan or vegetarian diet.

BAKED STUFFED AVOCADOS

2 large ripe avocados
2 cups cooked quinoa (I used a mix of plain and Tri-Colored Quinoa from Trader Joe’s)
1 medium-sized tomato, diced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Slice avocados lengthwise and remove the pit by gently tapping it with a large sturdy knife.
  • Scoop the avocado from the shell with a spoon and place in a mixing bowl.  Add quinoa, tomatoes, feta, salt and pepper.  Mix to combine, but leaving hunks of avocado.
  • Place the hollow avocado shells on a baking sheet and carefully fill each with the mixture.  (I found that I had more filling that the shells would hold and baked the remainder in a small greased casserole dish).
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes until cheese is sufficiently melted.

recipe slightly adapted from P&G Everday

Gluten Free · Health · Vegan · Vegetarian

Spinach Tomato Lentil Soup

In the New Year, many of us have vowed to lost weight (5% for me) and eat healthier. This recipe from Aggie’s Kitchen grabbed my attention with the healthy vegetables and protein of the lentils. It’s an easy soup to make and full of nutrients. It makes a large batch and I found I added more and more water since the soup gets quite thick. I’ve shared some with a vegan friend and frozen some for a later treat.

SPINACH TOMATO LENTIL SOUP

1 lb. dried lentils
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 carrots, diced
2-3 celery stalks, diced
1 large onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 large cans diced Italian tomatoes, with liquid
2 tablespoons vegetable bouillon (or replace some of water with vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
12 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
1 bag fresh spinach

  • In a large pot, heat olive oil and add vegetables, garlic, bouillon, spices and pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté vegetables in oil for about 7-10 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add diced tomatoes, water (or broth), and lentils to vegetable mixture.
  • Bring soup to a slow boil for a few minutes, then back down to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes, until soup starts to thicken.
  • Taste for seasoning as its cooking, add more water if it gets too thick.
  • In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add fresh spinach leaves to soup and gently stir to combine.

Recipe Adapted from Aggie’s Kitchen

Garden · Vegan · Vegetarian

Fresh Garden Tomatoes with Homemade Pesto

Continuing on my lazy days of summer postings, let’s talk about tomatoes. Fresh garden tomatoes cannot be compared in any way to the mushy, tasteless tomatoes at the grocery store. Comparing the two is like comparing a beautiful rose to a dandelion. Wonder why that’s the case? Read this great article from the University of Illinois Extension office.

Unfortunately, I have regular visitors to my garden helping themselves to my tomatoes.  The silly bunny (that isn’t afraid of my Golden or Chihuahua) along with the neighborhood Raccoon are creating havoc with the tomatoes.  I find green tomatoes plucked from the vine laying on the ground.  I find large red tomatoes half eaten on the vine.  Have any of you had the same experience? This is the first time in over 20 years that I’ve had to fight for my own tomatoes!

Racoon

Garden Bunny 020-6x9

IMG_1486
My garden tomatoes violated by the critters!

My tomatoes have been slow to produce this year but I have enjoyed a few fresh tomato salads. This time a juicy sliced tomatoes paired with homemade pesto (basil also from my garden) was the salad du jour.

If you don’t grow your own tomatoes, visit a local Farmer’s Market soon and enjoy the harvest.

English: Photograph of tomatoes on a vegetable...
English: Photograph of tomatoes on a vegetable stall at Borough Market in London, UK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the pesto recipe, reference my posting, Pesto Schmesto.

Family Favorites

Salsa Chicken ala Crockpot

Salsa Chicken in the crockpot is a simple, hearty dish and perfect to serve for a crowd. You can easily modify the recipe to match your taste, adding more vegetables, hotter chiles, etc.

I’m trying to avoid simple carbs so I served over quinoa with sliced fresh tomatoes. It would be fun to serve the chicken in a buffet with a variety of serving options (outlined below) to allow the guest to make their own finished product.

SALSA CHICKEN IN THE CROCKPOT

2 pounds chicken breasts (if large, cut in half)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
7 oz. can diced green chiles
16 ounce jar of salsa
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
salt and pepper

  • Place chicken breasts in bottom of crock pot and season with salt and pepper.
  • Add corn, beans, chiles and salsa.  Sprinkle with cilantro.
  • Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours or 8 hours on low.
  • About an hour before serving, shred the chicken in the crockpot and let simmer until ready to serve.

  • Serve with fresh tomatoes, avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, or salsa as you like.
  • Serving options:  Use as filling in burritos or tacos.  Serve over quinoa, baked potato, rice or noodles.
Family Favorites · New Favorite

BLATO (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Tomato, Onion) Sandwich Bar

Family was visiting and we were gathering for lunch at my house.  It occurred to me that a BLT, or better yet at BLATO, bar would be fun.  Standing over the stove frying endless pieces of bacon didn’t sound appealing so I turned to baked bacon instead.

Early that morning I baked 30 pieces of bacon and it was a breeze!  I also washed and prepared the lettuce and sliced the onion for later.  Immediately before serving, I sliced the avocado and tomato.  I provided 2 types of bread along with the option of toasting the bread in the toaster oven and provided condiments of mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup.  In addition, I served sliced turkey and cheese for those that may not like bacon OR prefer to make a mega-sandwich with all of the above!

For the vegetarian or vegan in the group, they can still partake with a wonderful veggie sandwich!

BAKED BACON

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Place a baking rack in a large baking, or cookie, sheet. The baking rack allows the drippings to fall away from the bacon.  Place bacon strips on baking rack.  Bake for 10-20 minutes depending on thickness of the bacon.  I used thick sliced bacon that took 16-20 minutes to bake.  For 30 slices of bacon, I baked 10-12 slices per pan.
  • Remove bacon and pat excess drippings with paper towel.  Set aside until time to serve.
New Favorite

Corn Chile Cheese Pie

Corn Chile Cheese Pie has been in my recipe file for years without credit to anyone. This weekend I had the ingredients and decided to try it.  I especially like the addition or corn meal to give a little texture to the pie.  While this recipe indicates no crust, I think it would be wonderful with a crust as well.

I served mine topped with slices of avocado and a side of fresh tomatoes.  Yummy for breakfast, lunch, dinner…anytime!

CORN, CHEESE, CHILE PIE

3 large eggs
16 ounce can whole kernel corn (blenderized)
2/3 stick butter
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup sour cream
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
4 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces can diced green chiles
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease 9 1/2″ pie plate with butter.
  • Beat eggs.
  • Add all ingredients and stir.
  • Pour into dish and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. Center will be firm and top will be brown.
  • Cool 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

  • Serve with sliced avocado and/or tomatoes.
New Favorite · Vegetarian

Caprese Pasta…OMG!

Caprese Pasta? With smoked mozzarella? OMG…I had to try this recipe found on Iowa Girl Eats. I rarely eat wheat pasta but this was worth the splurge!

CAPRESE PASTA

Serves 2-3

8 oz. bow tie pasta (or pasta of choice)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sungold (cherry) tomatoes, halved
salt & pepper
2 Tablespoons pesto (reference Pesto recipe or purchase)
1 cup cubed smoked mozzarella cheese (or mini mozzarella balls)
extra basil leaves for garnish

  • Prepare pesto and set aside. Cook pasta in salted, boiling water until just under al dente then drain and set aside. Place an oven rack to the very top, then preheat broiler.
  • Heat oil in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add cherry tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, then toss and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add cooked pasta and pesto then toss to combine. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top then place skillet under the broiler until cheese melts. Using a pot holder, remove skillet from oven then sprinkle with fresh basil leaves and fresh cracked pepper. Serve immediately.

Slightly adapted from Alexandra Cooks; and Iowa Girl Eats

New Favorite · New Traditions · Vegetarian

Avocado and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Avocado + Goat Cheese + basil + olive oil + tomato = taste bud explosion!

AVOCADO AND GOAT CHEESE BRUSCHETTA

Baguette
1 avocado
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
basil leaves
1/4 cup goat cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt flakes and freshly ground pepper

  • Slice the baguette and toast the bread.
  • Slice and pit the avocado.  Scoop out the flesh with a spoon, place in a bowl.
  • Mash the avocado and mix in the lime juice and chopped basil.
  • Add the goat cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix together,
  • Spread the mixture onto the toast.
  • Add a basil leaf to each piece of toast and top with a half of a sun gold tomato (or cherry tomato).