Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tomato with Basil and EVOL Snack

I love this.  So far I've only made this for hubby and myself.  The best ingredients for me are tomatos from the garden as well as freshly plucked basil.  If your grocer sells yummy tomatoes and basil, you are in luck.  I haven't tried this with dried basil, but that is certainly an option.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Layer leaves, roll, slice.

Chop tomato, add basil,
drizzle with oil.
And so good for you.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sauteed Fresh-From-Garden Lima Beans

Kid Rating:  (Didn't save any for them.  They'll have some from the next picking.)
Do Again?:  Most definitely!  Over and over and over.  Will have to try beans from the frozen and dried variety when the garden runs out.

I vaguely remember reluctantly trying Lima beans as a kid.  I don't recall them ever being on our family table or anyone else's table.  They seemed to be depicted on TV as a kid's worst veggie nightmare.

Well, I grew my own.  Oh, yum.  I cracked open a ready pod and started eating them there in the garden.  So good.  I collected more pods, brought them in, and had my parents and hubby try them straight out of the pod.  We stopped so I'd have enough for a recipe.

Guess what.  We are not supposed to eat them raw because of their cyanide content.  They have to be cooked for at least 10 minutes first while the cyanide is safely released and diluted into the air as a gas.  Upon further reading, I learned that different varieties of Lima beans have different levels of cyanide, and the ones offered in the United States, especially the seeds in packets for us to grow, are safe. I'm sure the FDA wouldn't allow anything harmful be sold to us.

My family and I felt fine after eating raw Lima beans, but I will be cooking them just in case.


1 1/2 cups  Lima Beans (amount after removing from pods)
1 T            Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOL)
1 T            Salted Butter
1-2            Cloves of garlic (depending on size and preference), minced
to taste     Kosher salt
to taste     Pepper

Heat skillet, oil, and butter.
Add beans.  Stir occasionally. 15-20 min.
Add garlic, salt, and pepper.
Saute 1-2 min. longer.

An additional note about adding beans:  While taking them out of the pods, separate them into different sizes.  Cook the larger ones first, then add the next size to the skillet after about 3 minutes (and so-on).

Skins peel off the beans during cooking.  I served
them, too, and they tasted yummy and crispy.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Grilled Summer Squash - Easy

Kid Rating:  Not their favorite.
Do Again:  Yes, for me.

I've made this twice within the past few days because, well, I have a lot of these growing in my garden.  And, it's so quick and simple.

Summer squash
salt (I used Kosher)
parmsan cheese (from block)

Slice squash to desired thickness.
Spread a thin coat of butter on both sides.
Grill on medium direct.  Turn every 2 minutes until desired texture is reached.

Sprinkle with salt.
Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.
I only thought of the cheese after putting in on the
raviolis.  Bonus discovery!  Yum!
The cheese really makes the dish splendid.  I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked it.  I guess the kids will have to grow into it.  For now, it's a nice lunch while the kids are in school.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tomato Soup with Basil

Kid Rating:  3 out of 3 like it
Do Again: Yes

My initial tomato soup post was mostly an experiment.  Here is a clearer recipe, although I still have a few kinks to work out.  The end result is delicious.

I'm excited about this because the tomatoes and basil are from my garden.  (I never really liked tomatoes until I had some from a garden).  They smelled wonderful and were yummy as I nibbled on a few pieces during preparation.  I even thought I may not add sugar because they are so sweet.

I'm also excited because I used my pressure canner for the first time.  I canned my own tomato soup!  Maybe it sounds silly to be happy about that, but there is something satisfying about learning these new skills.  I'm thankful to friends and neighbors who let me tag along to watch, help, and learn during their own canning sessions.

You came here for a recipe, didn't you?

15 tomatoes, various sizes (makes about 7 1/2 cups pureed and strained)
1 medium onion
2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed (or a few dashes of garlic powder)
Basil leaves (I used about 21 fresh) --  dried is good, 3T+
2T sugar
1T butter
1T flour
1t Kosher salt
Special equipment:  food processor, although it's not required. You could use a blender in smaller batches or mash the tomatoes with a potato masher in the pot while they are cooking.

1.  Chop tomatoes, remove stems and blemishes
At this point, you have a variation of procedures.  I put the tomatoes with seeds and skins in a food processor then strained them later after they cooked a bit.  Some people remove the seeds and skins first.  Here is a method for that on this link:   Someday, I'd like to just leave the seeds and skin for the extra fiber.  My family seems to prefer the smoother texture for now.

2.  Puree in a processor if available.  Add the onion and garlic to one of the batches.

3.  Put pureed tomatoes/onion/garlic in pot and heat to boiling, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Starts off foamy.
Turns a nice red.
4.  Strain if desired.  I have a sieve that allows the pulp to go through but keeps most of the seeds back.  I do it in batches.  Return soup to pot.  (No picture).

5.  Ladle some soup into a smaller bowl/cup.  Add the 1 T of flour to it and stir until smooth.  Return it to the pot.
Adding flour to a small amount of soup.
Add more flour for thicker soup.
6.  Chop basil leaves (layer, roll, and slice).  Add sugar, butter, and salt.  Reheat.

My first pressure-canning experience!  It seems silly
to have only 3 pints for that huge canner, but I was
so proud, like a toddler taking her first steps.
(13 psi, 15 min.)
Family Review:
11 y.o. - Likes it.
10 y.o. - Likes the flavor and aftertaste and would eat it slowly (she has an aversion to smooth textures like soups, pudding, and yogurt).
6 y.o. - Loved it.  He started helping himself to the leftovers in the container.  I asked if he'd like a bowl.  "Yes!"
Hubby - He'll have to wait until we open one of the jars because our 6 y.o. ate his portion, too.  -I'm sure he'd like it  ;)
Me - Loved it, too.

Next time:  Maybe I'd scoop out the seeds before pureeing, then I wouldn't have to strain and could keep the skin pulp.

Question:  Why are the seeds removed anyway?  I Googled the question and only came across that it's a personal preference.  I've read comments that people think they are bitter when bitten into while eating tomato soup. I don't remember ever chewing my tomato soup.  You?  I have chewed chunky salsa, though, with chips, etc. Aren't seeds left in there?  Texture is probably the biggest deciding factor.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sauteed Summer Squash and Zucchini (Sans Zucchini)

Kid Rating:  1 out of 3 liked it
Do again:  Yes, at least some variation of it

I didn't have any zucchini on hand, but I did have an ample supply of crook-neck yellow summer squash from my garden. The following recipe is based and tweaked from Andie Mitchell's blog, "Can You Stay For Dinner?"

FYI - Choose smooth yellow squash and not
the bumpy ones.  I waited too long to cook them.
2 T olive oil (I used Extra Virgin)

1-2 tsp butter
2 tsp herbs de Provence (a mixture of thyme, marjoram, savory and rosemary -- or just use your own favorite herbs)
2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed
(1/3) medium red onion (I wished I had used more)
2 summer squash (or 1 zucchini, 1 summer squash)

I like thicker slices of zucchini and squash -- more firm.
Heat pan, medium heat.
On one side, melt butter and add onions.
On other side, add olive oil, garlic, and herbs.
Heat for a few minutes (2-4).
Spread herb mixture and add squash.
Cook and stir frequently until desired lack of firmness firmness is reached. 

Family Review
11 y.o. - liked it
10 y.o. - didn't like it (but she loves my Brussels sprouts, collard greens, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, so I'm not too worried)
6 y.o. - didn't like it, but at least he tried it without much fuss
Hubby - liked it
Me - I enjoyed it, but it needed more onions.  I really like the added sweetness the onion provided.

Grill idea:  Instead of sauteing, I may grill the pieces and baste with the herb-and-garlic-infused oil.

Lastly, I wanted to share this favorite quote.
What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Growing My Own

Corn. Cantaloupe. Our own pumpkins for Halloween.

That would have been my list a couple of years ago if you were to ask me what I would like to grow in a garden.

Now, after my veggie-quest, there are so many more on my list, and I have been working hard putting in garden in time for Spring planting. We live on a slope and had had to put in a couple of retaining walls and filled in with soil.

Here's what is planted:
Brussels sprouts (actually, they'll be planted for Fall)
collard greens
jalapeƱo peppers
squash: summer and spaghetti
sugar snap peas
Swiss chard

Upon finishing the garden, neighbors offered their garden plot for our use. My kids are planting corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, and giant sunflowers. I'd also like to plant some pumpkins in front of my house.

Where's the cabbage, THE veggie that started the quest? I know, I know. I'll see if I can squeeze it in among my kids' garden. I do want to put in a square-foot garden plot in the one non-slopey area in our back yard that has sunlight -- cabbage could go in there, but that may have to wait until next year.

I wonder how many more "discovered" vegetables I'll want to plant by then.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sauteed Swiss Chard w/Parmesan Cheese

Kid Rating: 2 out of 3 liked it ... initially (see "Family Review" below)
Do Again?: Yes (I really liked it, with exposure they'll like it, too)

Adapted from, click HERE.

2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic (I used two cloves)
1/2 small red onion, diced (I used 4 scallions)
1 bunch Swiss chard (I cut out the thicker red stems and left them out completely) - layer leaves together, roll, and cut 1/2 inch strips (can see technique HERE from my collard green post).
1/2 c dry white wine (I like Holland House's cooking wine)
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese (at least 2 T - YUM)
Salt to taste (cooking wine has salt added to it - FYI)

1. Melt butter and olive oil together in large skillet over med-hi heat.
2. Stir in garlic and onion, cook about 30 seconds until fragrant.
3. If you choose to keep the chopped stem pieces, add them and the white wine now, simmer to soften stems about 5 min. Otherwise, just add the wine and immediately go to #4.
4. Stir in chard leaves. Cook until wilted (doesn't take long).
5. Stir in (squeeze in) lemon juice and cheese.
6. Season to taste.

Here comes the sample bite!

Served with yams - recipe HERE.

5 y.o. - Eagerly took the sample bite. Looked at me. Ran to garbage can.
10 y.o. - Eagerly took the sample bite. Looked at me. Two thumbs up. She really liked it. But, when I put some on her plate, she became repulsed when she realized there was cheese in it.
11 y.o. - Dutifully took the sample bite. Glances at me. "Pretty good." (Me, happy and astonished at his compliment, "Pretty good?!"). Him, "Yeah. Sort of." Then, after giving him his dinner plate, he said, "I don't think I like it."
Hubby - "I dunno." But he ate it.
Me - I really, really liked it and finished my kids' servings.

Next time: Each person can add their own cheese if they want it.