Showing posts with label tomatoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tomatoes. Show all posts

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sun Gold Tomato Pesto Pizza

A vegan, nut-, and gluten free Sun Gold cherry tomato pesto sauce that is great as an appetizer or dip, a pizza sauce, or pasta sauce.  It freezes well, too.

One of the near-guarantees, if you're in a summer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) or farm share subscription, is a lot of tomatoes.  Quite possibly more than you can cope with in a week.  This week, for example, I got four quarts of tomatoes.  Four!  I had a quart of cherry tomatoes, 2 quarts of slicing tomatoes, and a quart of heirloom tomatoes.  (And I'm the only human around who likes to eat raw tomatoes.)
However, I'm not the only household member who's thrilled that Sun Gold season is upon us.
Some people like to gobble up cherry tomatoes like candy.  Others like their tomatoes cooked, never raw.  Still others grow into almost liking tomatoes.  I recall I first tried a summer tomato sandwich, as a non-raw-tomato-eating adult, thanks to a food writer at The Washington Post--her description of the flavors sounded so good that, even though I wasn't a fan of raw tomatoes, I toasted some bread, grabbed the mayo, salt and pepper, sliced a tomato from the garden and discovered a wonderful taste sensation.  That still remains my favorite way to enjoy tomatoes in the summertime.

What choice do I have other than to Deal With All these quarts of tomatoes?  Next week will bring a new box, and sooner or later my own tomatoes will ripen.  I've got to get these tomatoes put up.  
If you're curious, I slow-roasted most of the slicing tomatoes overnight, following Alanna's excellent tutorial, and I put up 4 half pints of heirloom tomato & cashew pesto in the freezer, then I gave a couple of slicers to my neighbor, and the pigs and I snacked on the rest of the cherry tomatoes.  I'm all set.  This week.  I'm lucky they'll just keep coming until frost.
Since I used primarily slicing tomatoes when I made and put up Heather's Fresh Tomato Pesto, I decided to use the Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and my kitchen scale to provide a metric weight-based recipe for this delicious sauce.  I noticed that I needed less oil for these juicy summer tomatoes than I needed for the late season tomatoes.  I threw the sauce on a pizza, so I could get this ever-so-seasonal post up for Friday Night Pizza Night. For real--the dishes are still in the sink, this recipe is that fresh!  You'll be reading it while I'm still cleaning up the mess and the kids are fighting over the leftovers.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fast Fresh Tomato Sauce
Served over polenta.  Crazy tasty.

When you've got farm fresh tomatoes and are looking for a quick easy no-cook tomato sauce, look here.  A jar of capers lives in my fridge, and if I put up enough, I have a cube or two of pesto left in the freezer until my basil gets going in the summer.  So when I get ripe tomatoes, I'm good to go.
This was fast, easy, and tasty.  Try it!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Green and Gold Basil Tomato Tart

A late summer tart of ripe yellow tomatoes on top of a bed of rich basil and cheese, baked in a tart shell. A decadent vegetarian dish.

Updated in 2015 with new photos!

This dish, more than any other one I make, screams SUMMER! to me.  I first tried it at a party in Hawaii, asked for the recipe on the spot, and have carried that stained sheet of paper around with me for many moves.  I've shared this dish with so many folks but I'm putting it up here too.

More photos, because I make this every year when I get yellow tomatoes!

Even though this is a summer dish to me, I also love it in the early fall, when we still have ripe tomatoes and I'm happy to turn on the oven.  If your family's favorite football team happens to wear green and gold, then making this tart for game night, using yellow tomatoes, would be extra festive.

For more recipes using ripe yellow and or red tomatoes, please see my Red & Yellow Tomato Recipes Collection (not to be confused with the Green Tomato Recipes Collection). For more recipes using up basil or other herbs, please see my Recipes Using Herbs Collection. These recipes are part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient, a resource for folks like me eating from the farm share, the farmer's market, and seasonal garden abundance. Want even more tomato ideas? I've got a board devoted to tomato recipes from around the web on Pinterest. Curious how to use this blog? Click here.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fresh Tomato Pesto & Fresh Mozzarella Pizza (Pizza night!)

By May, I am eagerly anticipating the first tomatoes of the season.  I cannot wait for the taste of a summer tomato with mayo, salt and pepper and good bread. Or in a panzanella.  Tomatoes just taste SO GOOD when you haven't eaten a fresh one in ages!   By September, however, I am usually over the taste of fresh tomatoes.  I'll still save out a few from the farm share for sandwiches and burgers, but the rest of the tomatoes will get canned or slow-roasted and put up for winter.  Last fall, however, a happy coincidence changed my mind and caused this delicious pizza to come about.

This is the taste of tomatoes at their peak, and it's simply awesome.

The sauce for this pizza came from a recipe that Heather at In Her Chucks posted.  Her recipe was for Cherry Tomato Pesto, using cherry tomatoes and salted almonds.  When I got yellow tomatoes in the farm share, I decided to try it.  I didn't have almonds, but I did have some salted cashews in the freezer so I swapped for them.  I also used less oil because when I went to scrape down the food processor bowl I found the sauce consistency to my liking without the additional oil. I made so much fresh tomato pesto that it deserved its own post--here's how to make it and put it up. Since there is no cheese in this pesto, the pizza crust and sauce combo contain no animal products.  Topping your pizza with soy cheese would result in a vegan-friendly pizza.

I found fresh mozzarella marked down at the grocery store (snag it when you see it, it freezes/thaws well when you're using it for pizza) and the mental image of the bright yellow sauce with the white circles of cheese appealed to me.  Giant pepperoni slices added a final pop of color, as my kid would say, and the whole family loved this pizza.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fresh Tomato Pesto: How to Make, Put Up, and Use It

I hate to waste food, and I'm pretty sure that you hate to waste food, too.

As I get to know the people who grow my food, I also hate to waste their time and the literal fruits of their labors.  When I decided to start a blog, I did so because I'd had success figuring out ways to take the farm share produce (that came into my house between May and November) and feed it to my family during the off season as well.

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Tomatoes processed with nuts, herbs, garlic & oil. This recipe can be frozen, and is great with a wide variety of tomatoes.

I know you like to eat tasty food (you're reading a food blog, so this is a guess, I'm not stalking you or anything) but it's just common sense not to enjoy composting or throwing away something you paid for that could have benefited you, your family, or hungry folks in your community had it been consumed in time.

So I need to share today a lesson in putting up a food which you may think couldn't ever be wasted:  a garden fresh tomato.

yellow tomatoes used to make fresh tomato pesto
As soon as you have fresh (yours or someone's garden, CSA farm share, or farmer's market--not grocery store) tomatoes, please make this.  You'll thank me!  I've been thanking Heather! Not Simon, who photobombed the shot.

I know you're thinking "What, is she crazy?  I look forward to tomatoes from my garden all winter long!  I start them too early in the Spring because I can. not. wait. to eat fresh tomatoes!"

Sure, sure. You're saying this in May.  In June.  But what are you saying in September? October?

The fresh picked tomato has less of an appeal then.  That's the time I am canning tomatoes, slow roasting tomatoes, doing anything but simply enjoying the fresh flavor of a tomato allowed to ripen naturally and picked at its peak of flavor.

Why am I nattering on about this?  To put you in my mindset last fall when Heather posted her Cherry Tomato Pesto recipe. I had all the ingredients so I thought I'd give it a whirl (pun totally intended), but I was not expecting my reaction to my first taste of it.

It's broke da mouth good.

I was licking the bowl of the food processor when my spouse walked into the kitchen.  I sheepishly gave him a taste, and then he understood why.  Not content to make the recipe once (and in the interests of science and/or this blog), I made it multiple times, shown here.  I've used your basic red tomato, yellow taxi tomatoes, indigo rose tomatoes.  I've used cashews and almonds, and Leanne suggests it's great with macadamia nuts for a more dairy feel--without dairy.  I've used fresh basil, fresh parsley, and, when the fresh stuff ran out, I've made it with put up Arugula Pesto and Basil pesto right from the freezer.  I froze a bunch of tomato pesto in November, and thawed the final bag in April (shown above, after I learned to take a slightly better photo of it, even though the dog photobombed me).  I'll go so far as to say that you could make this pesto with any kind of tomato, nearly any kind of nut you have available, and nearly any kind of flavorful leafy green or herb you have available and it will taste great.

For other recipes using yellow or red (or orange, or purple--the variety of tomatoes in the farm share continues to astound me), please see my Tomato Recipes Collection. [I have a separate one for recipes made with Green Tomatoes]. These collections are part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient, a resource for folks like me eating from the farm share, the farmer's market, the garden, the neighbor's garden, and great deals on ugly produce at the grocery store.

I'm sharing more recipes on my Pinterest boards, follow me there. If you like a good peek behind the scenes like I do, follow me on Instagram. Need a good read? I'm sharing articles of interest on my Facebook page, follow me there. Want to know How to Use This Blog?

a collage of the different combinations of tomatoes and nuts used to make fresh tomato pesto

a collage of the steps involved making fresh tomato pesto

Fresh Tomato Pesto Sauce 

(very slightly adapted from Heather's Cherry Tomato Pesto)


  • 4 medium or 2 large tomatoes (tops to the composting pigs!)
  • 1/2 cup packed basil, parsley, or arugula leaves
  • 1/3 cup salted cashews, almonds, or macadamia nuts
  • 1 clove garlic (or use some roasted garlic, if you like)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Throw everything in the food processor.  Pulse a few times to chunk it up, then puree on high several seconds until smooth.  
  2. Scrape down sides and puree a couple moments more to get that last pesky piece of cashew incorporated.  
  3. Store in the fridge a few days, or in the freezer at least up to 6 months.
  4. This makes enough for 2 pizzas plus an appetizer for a hungry spouse who walks into the kitchen while you're licking the bowl because it tastes so amazing. We enjoyed this on pita chips, tortilla chips, carrot slices, baguettes, and pasta.

I've used it on a few pizzas, too:
Not-So-Simple Cheese Pizza
Five Cheese Pizza with Indigo Rose Tomato and Almond Pesto on a Butternut Squash Crust
Broccoli Rabe, Mushroom, and Roasted Garlic with Fresh Mozzarella and Fresh Tomato Pesto
Beef, Mushroom, and Fresh Tomato Pesto FFF-boli
Buttermilk Crust Pizza with Pepperoni and Fresh Tomato Sauce

This post is bopping around to What's Cookin' Wednesday, waving "hi!" to Heather, who first shared this recipe, at What's In The Box,  the From The Farm Blog Hop the Clever Chicks Blog Hop , Tasty Tuesdays, and the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up, Real Food Fridays.

an assortment of freezer bags filled with fresh tomato pesto

Friday, May 31, 2013

Buttermilk Crust Pizza with Pepperoni and Four Cheese Topping

Do you keep buttermilk in your fridge?  I do.  Sometimes I make my own, sometimes I find it marked down at the grocery store and buy it.  Once I saw a half gallon for 15 cents (on the sell-by date).  You bet I snagged that bottle in a hot minute. 15 cents!
What do I do with all this buttermilk? I'm glad you asked.  I use it in a bunch of different muffin recipes.  The key recipe is here, and there are many more variations to the right ------> in my Recipe Index by Category.  I also use buttermilk in waffle batter such as this one.  I'm encouraging my son to pick up the skill of biscuits, so he'll be following this recipe.  And this summer, once all the bottles on the door of the fridge are used up, I am going to make this Buttermilk salad dressing.  But today, because it is Friday, I want to talk about pizza dough.
Buttermilk in dough makes a tender crust.  It's also got subtle tang that works great with sweet (ok, more like sweeter, I have yet to make a dessert pizza) and savory toppings, as you'll see today and in the future.  My recipe is from my favorite pizza book, The Best Pizza Is Made at Home (Nitty Gritty Cookbooks), by Donna Rathmell German.  I kept it basic this time, but there are more variations on tap (and currently in my fridge!  Check my FB page for the pizzas we're eating tonight using a whole wheatier Buttermilk Pesto Dough).

Generally, when I am sharing a new dough variation, I tend to keep the toppings pretty normal.  I mean I didn't want to freak you out like I did with the beet crust dough for vegans, vegetarians, or omnivores.  Today is no exception--as you can see by the title, it's a pepperoni pizza.  Like my Not So Simple Cheese Pizza, this pizza uses the wonderful Fresh Tomato Pesto I discovered when Heather put it up on In Her Chucks.  Since I spent fall and winter figuring out how to make, put up, and subsequently use many variations of that pesto, it has earned its own "how to" blog post which will be coming out next week.  Around these parts, that's before the fresh tomatoes show up--but don't run out and buy a well-traveled tomato.  Wait.  Patience is a virtue. Local tomatoes, like local strawberries and local celery, just taste better.  Life is too short to eat tasteless food.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Beef, Mushroom, Fresh Tomato Pesto FFF-a-boli (Pizza Night!)

I did warn you mention that I'd tried a couple of variations when I was rocking and rolling in the pizza.

Since my spouse also likes mushrooms, I made a mushroom variation of the Birthday 'boli.  Not one to waste perfectly good browned ground beef, I added a generous cup of sliced mushrooms to the meat left in the skillet from the basic 'boli.  Coupled with a Fresh Tomato Pesto then cooked down until thick, it turned out most excellent.

This got me thinking about more veggilicious 'boli fillings, so in addition to the Thanksgiving Leftover Remake 'boli that's in the can already, stay tuned for more rolled pizzas.  This is fun! Just the way a Friday night should be, you know?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Leftover Remake: Ham and Bean Soup--No Salt Added + Slow Cooker option (Leftover Ham Week)
My spouse took this photo.  This flower that has sprouted in a seam between the tiles on the roof of the Believer's Palace in Baghdad, which was actually a decoy building to hide a bunker that was built underneath the palace.  On my FB page I've shared what it looked like just to the right of the photo.
Bloom where you are planted.
To me, this quote exemplifies the best of military spouses.  Due to our spouses' careers, we often find ourselves re-creating our lives every few years as we move across the globe.  So many military spouses I know are enthusiastic, energetic people genuinely interested in exploring what makes this new location different than the last home.

It was with this spirit of adventure that I joined the local military spouse group for a tour of Dorothy Lane Market.  DLM is an amazing grocery store less than one mile (according to Map My Walk) from my home.  You may know of Wegman's--the Northeast US chain of grocery stores known for amazing customer service, happy employees, and terrific products.  DLM is a 3 store midwestern version.  During our tour of DLM, the thing that struck me was how similar to my kitchen the store is run.
Stores, they're just like us.
I make no secret that I'm partial to marked down produce, day old bread, and discounted meat and dairy products.  I'd noticed that I never saw magical markdown stickers at DLM, and during the tour I learned why.  Primarily, most of the baked goods and dairy products are picked up by different shelters each day.  But the rest of the stuff?  Tom told us it gets made into soups for the hot foods area, into salads, and into prepared foods sold in the ready-to-eat section.  Have you ever looked at your fridge and thought, "well, I need to use up that half onion, that baked potato, that bit of chard, that ham . . ."?  Can you imagine having an entire produce section/meat department/dairy department at your disposal?  Wowza.

During our tour we went from the top of the store to the basement, checking out different departments along the way and enjoying samples--including amazing fresh mozzarella made by the very talented Tracey.  Wow, that on a pizza, with some cherry tomato pesto and CSA farm share spinach?  We checked out the kitchens--does anyone other than Hobart make commercial dishwashers?  I really appreciated the chance to peek behind the scenes of a place I shop at frequently--all because of a curious military spouse's initiative.  Thanks, Aileen!

When we moved in to our home, our neighbors welcomed us with a box of cookies and Killer Brownies® and I was just blown away.  Seriously amazing goodies.  I'd known that we could walk down to Graeter's ice cream before we moved in, but this DLM store was new to me.

I was delighted when my daughter went Christmas shopping at Dorothy Lane Market.  No, she did not give me a Killer Brownie.  Instead, she gave me a container of beans + a recipe for Heavenly Ham® Bean Soup.  Recently she helped me make the soup--and her interpretation of the seasonings turned it into a delicious soup without any additional salt (the ham is salty enough, we think).

I used to buy the bags of Ham Been soup that contained such a pretty array of beans plus a seasoning packet.  I'd follow the recipe, using my leftover ham bone, and make a delicious soup.  Then I read the contents of that seasoning packet and resolved to make my soup without it, and it never really turned out right.  Something was just off.

I'm so glad I had my daughter help me make this recipe I'm sharing with you today.

There are 2 cool things about this recipe.  First, the recipe includes the amounts and kinds of dry beans*, so if I wanted to make up quart jars of my own pretty bean mix for gift giving I could.  Second, I got to use a jar of crushed tomatoes that I put up in the fall (which, come to think of it, would make a good pair of jars to give:  a jar of crushed tomatoes plus a jar of dried beans plus the recipe to use both to make soup).
*If you want to make your own pretty bean mix, here's what the recipe suggests:  1/2 cup (dry) each of lentils, split peas, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, navy beans, black beans, red kidney beans and lima beans.  Four cups total of mixed beans.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken (And Chick Pea) Tikka Masala (Food Bloggers Change My Life #2)

Have you ever made a recipe for the first time, in someone else's kitchen, for a crowd?

Scary thought, no?  I'd bookmarked this recipe, Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala by Rebecca of Foodie With Family because my family loves Indian food, I love my slow cooker, and her directions seemed clear, easy, and very do-able for me.  I just didn't know when I'd get around to making it.

The wonderful thing about joining a CSA is that you've got seasonal farm fresh vegetables flooding into your kitchen every week.  The annoying thing about being in a CSA is that you've got seasonal farm fresh vegetables flooding into your kitchen every week.

What if you feel like eating tomatoes, the canned ones you've put up, but you've got fresh spinach, Band Fruit Fundraiser citrus, and the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve staring at you reproachfully?

You use the spinach in this, or this, or this.
You use the citrus in this, or this, or this.
You use the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve in this, or this, or this.

You regretfully turn away from your canned tomatoes, knowing that they will be waiting for you when you've dealt with all the fresh stuff.  And then you run away!

You run away to visit your in-laws.  You know that everyone likes to sit down together around the big table and enjoy a meal, and it's awfully nice not to always be the one to make the meal.  So you offer to make a meal one of the nights of your visit.  But what to make?  What will appeal to 4 generations of eaters?

I decided to go for it and make this meal. For the first time.  Not in my own kitchen.  Not just for my family.  Sure, I played it safe and brought with me almost all the ingredients (since I had everything but cilantro on hand already).  I brought my own slow cooker and my own rice cooker.  I even brought my own measuring spoons!

You know what happened?  Thanks to the clear directions, great photos, and excellent recipe it worked out just fine.  It went together easily, the whole crowd ate it, and some even went back for seconds.

This recipe is easy to make.  Click here to read it!  This post is the second in an on-going series about how Food Bloggers Change My Life.  You don't remember reading the first in the series?  Yeah, you're fine, it's not live yet.  I wrote it up after making Chicken Cider Stew from Alanna of Kitchen Parade and A Veggie Venture, but since I'm all about seasonal eating and it's really not cider season, it will be up in the fall.  Meantime, since you've hopefully got jars of crushed tomatoes you put up in the fall . . .

Friday, February 22, 2013

Broccoli and Cheese on a Boboli® (Pizza Night!) Plus Bonus: How to Grow Celery

UPDATE:  It's a pet peeve, but I don't like reading a blog post about how someone starts a new venture.  I want to hear how it turned out, as well.  So scroll down and see the rest of the celery story.
This is clearly not a pizza.  I felt kind of bad posting something so simple to make, like the pizza below, so since I've had some questions about it on my FB page, I've included a bonus How to Start Celery on your Kitchen Windowsill below the recipe. Though it's also incredibly simple to do. Pizza now:

There are times when my best intentions (of making dough Monday before heading out of town, knowing that we're rolling home Friday afternoon hours before Friday Night Pizza Night happens) are OBE. (Is this common knowledge or one of those military acronyms?)
OBE:  Overcome By Events.
This was one of those times.  No pizza dough in the house, though I had plenty of sauce, cheese, veggie, and meat topping choices in the pantry and freezer.  Had I hit Trader Joes, I would have picked up some of their bags of pizza dough.  But our beer/milk/eggs run took me to the rare grocery store that had no pizza dough. Not in the deli.  Not in the freezer section.  Ok, pre-baked crust it is.

I got a Boboli® instead.  I was surprised at the high cost of a Boboli® crust--a bag of uncooked dough is less than half  the cost of a Boboli and isn't that much harder to work with! [I bought the Boboli® myself and this post is completely unknown to the Boboli® corporation, but I feel I should clarify in case you were wondering.]

If you have a pathological fear of uncooked pizza dough and will only use a prebaked crust such as Boboli®, rock on.  You too can make amazing pizzas using ingredients from your CSA farm share.

Because we love pizza here on Friday nights, I bought 2 Boboli® and made 2 pizzas. (And will write 2 blog posts from 1 meal).  This one is the kiddie pizza--because during the grocery store run, while not finding dough, I found a marked down bag of precut broccoli florets.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Five Cheese Pizza with Indigo Rose Tomato and Almond Pesto on a Butternut Squash Crust (Pizza Night!)
Did you get roses for Valentine's Day?  After reading about this pizza sauce, I bet you wish you'd gotten Indigo Rose tomatoes from your local Community Supported Agriculture farm share instead.  

One of the reasons I love my CSA is the variety of colorful produce that shows up in the box each week.  It's like my own personal Iron Chef challenge to figure out what to make with each week's box full of secret ingredients.  And the taste--fresh produce just tastes so much better.

If you've never heard of a CSA farm share, check out Local Harvest. There you can use your zip code (in the US) to search for CSA farms that deliver to locations near you.  Late winter is the time to join a CSA.  By paying in advance you enable your farmer to purchase seeds and repair equipment at the beginning of the growing season.  In return, you get a share of the farm fresh produce all season long.  You're supporting a local business and you get to taste delicious veggies like these Indigo Rose tomatoes!

And now for something completely different.

Not really.  When I made the spinach dough I knew that I was going to continue to explore adding veggies from my CSA farm share into my family's pizza crust--not just on top of it.

But where to start?  To not quote a Monty Python film involving a lecture in a British boys' school, I can't go leaping into, for example, mustard green pizza crust.  Though the idea is intriguing . . . I wonder what I'd top it with?  More greens?  Bacon?

Ahem.  Move your coat to the lower peg and let's move on.

Instead of going to the freezer stash for slow-roasted tomatoes, or pesto, or pumpkin to try in a crust, I turned right and looked at the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve.  Specifically, because they stand head and shoulders above the rest (get it? above?) the Larch the butternut squash.  I'd had my epiphany-while-showering about shredding a butternut squash, so I had some shredded butternut squash on hand to play around with.

And play I did!  If you're on my Farm Fresh Feasts Facebook page, you've seen the golden and pillowy eggnog and butternut squash crust.  The recipe will be up here during eggnog season, because I'm all about eating seasonally with my CSA vegetables (and good deals on eggnog after the holidays).

To start us off here though, I also made a plain cheese pizza with a shredded butternut--nog free--crust. If you are going meatless on Fridays, keep in mind this pizza!  Using one of the packages of Fresh Tomato Pesto I'd put up in the fall, from Heather at In Her Chucks' wonderful Cherry Tomato Pesto recipe, this pizza is another not-so-simple cheese pizza.  Sure, it was simple enough for me to truthfully tell my daughter:
It's a cheese pizza.
But in reality it is a Five Cheese Pizza with Funky Orange Purple Indigo Rose Tomato and Almond Pesto on a Butternut Squash Crust.

And with that lofty name, let's get to it--shall we?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Acorn Squash, Beet, and Sweet Potato Chili: One Beginning, Two Endings (Bean-Free Chili for Vegans or with Beef for Carnivores)
Could be vegan chili on the left, chili for carnivores on the right.
One of the pots of chili you see here was what I set out to make.  The other one was the surprise mid-way through.

You see, it all started when I had a bite of my spouse's chili at Tom+Chee in Newport, KY.  It was smooth, meaty, and topped with a bit of blue cheese.  Yum!  I love that restaurant.

I like my Green Tomato Garlic Chili, and I like all the chunky and bean-y chili I have had.  In fact, I don't think I've met a chili I didn't like.  But I wanted to try my hand at making a smooth, meaty chili.

No chunks (the kids tolerate smooth better than chunky anyway) and no beans (thanks to New Year's day and a vat of Ham and Bean soup I'd had beans 8 out of 9 days of 2013 and frankly I needed a break).  What does that leave?  The Strategic Winter Squash Reserve, of course.

I started by roasting a small 1 pound acorn squash and a small sweet potato.  I was making a small batch, because after the giant vat of soup I really didn't want gallons of chili leftovers.  Then I set those aside and browned a pound of ground beef in my 3 quart saucepan.  I knew I wanted a smooth chili, but I didn't want to attack my beef with the immersion blender, so at this point I drained and set the beef aside.

If I were cooking for vegans as well as carnivores, I would wash the saucepan at this point.
I was just cooking for the family, so I added onions and some of my freezer stash carrots/celery/parsley to the pan (using the remnants of grease instead of oil) and sautéed.  I was thinking about how, when making Indian food, you sauté the spices until they are fragrant before adding the simmering liquids, so I decided to add the spices next.  Annemarie of RealFoodRealDeals made a squash chili and her recipe appeared in my inbox just as I was debating for which spices to use, so I went with her spicing suggestions.  I remembered my cousin Cindy (the cousin Cindy I've friended on FB but never met) telling me she adds beets to her tomato sauce so when I was grabbing a pack of slow-roasted tomatoes from the freezer I picked up a bag of shredded beets, too.  I tossed those in to simmer with the veggies, then I added some stock.  If I were cooking for vegans, I'd use vegetable stock or Penzey's vegetable soup base.  I used chicken stock instead, added a bay leaf, and it simmered away happily for an hour.  Since (did I mention) I wanted a smooth chili, I removed the bay leaf, grabbed my immersion blender and smoothed it all up.

Then I tasted the chili.  Dang, it's pretty good right now!

If you are serving vegans, move some of the chili to a slow cooker or saucepan over low heat to simmer quietly until serving time.  Because it was just us, I added back in most of the beef and simmered the whole lot on low another hour.  Then another hour because my spouse worked late.
The result was a smooth, thick, tomato-ey meaty chili.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Not-So-Simple Cheese Pizza (Fresh Tomato Pesto Sauce on Spinach Crust) Pizza Night!

"It's very greeeeeeeeeen."

So says my daughter when she spied this pizza coming out of the oven.  If the people you feed don't like green in general, try this pizza.  It's the first way I got my kids to eat spinach, and remains a tasty option when I get spinach in the farm share.  Especially when it's cold and my body craves warm things, not cold green smoothies.  Seasonal eating at its best.

This pizza uses the spinach crust from my Deployment Pizza, adds a (put up, from my freezer) fresh tomato pesto from Heather at In Her Chucks, and tops it off with a creamy Philly-Italian shred blend.  Tonight's tomato pesto sauce uses red farm share tomatoes, arugula pesto, and cashews.  It's delicious--as are all the permutations of fresh tomatoes, green herbs, and salted nuts that I've tried so far.  I cannot wait until summer when each week I plan to whip up a new fresh tomato pesto for the pizza.  For now, however, I'm delighted I discovered Heather's recipe in time to put up several batches of sauce for pizza.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Broccoli Rabe, Mushroom, Roasted Garlic Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella and Fresh Tomato Sauce (Pizza Night!)

I hate to waste edible food.  When I get greens from the farm share, I prefer to use the entire stem.  You will rarely find me using a recipe that calls for, say, discarding Swiss chard stems.  But when I read in the farm share newsletter that the stems of broccoli rabe (adorable how spell checker changes this to 'broccoli rage') could be used like asparagus, I decided to use the rest (leaves and florets) in a pizza.  With mushrooms, because I think they have that whole 'earthy' thing going on together.

As usual, I couldn't decide between sauces for the base.  So this recipe uses an amazing tomato pesto sauce recipe I got from Heather at In Her Chucks.  The sauce is so light and fresh that I kept the toppings simple and it turned out pretty good if I do say so myself.

Oh, and what did I do with the stems of the broccoli rabe?  I chopped them up, nuked them, and added them to tuna casserole.  I do not recommend doing that.  While they tasted fine, it ruined the familiar homey comforting that you expect from tuna casserole.  Luckily my son ate all the leftovers.

Monday, November 5, 2012

French Green Lentil Soup (and How to Make Brown Stock, Frugal Farm Fresh Feast Style)

You know how I keep yammering on about saving all the unused bits and pieces of your farm share veggies in a Soup Pack?  Today I'm going to show you how I use a soup pack to make a brown (beef) stock, then use some of that stock to make soup.

This soup got started with the cow taking up residence in my freezer.  I asked for all the odds and ends of the beast, from tongue to tail and odd bits in between.  We got several packages of "soup bones" and today I got one out, along with a soup pack.  Instead of randomly throwing ingredients and insufficient salt into the pot, like I usually do, I decided to <gasp!> follow a recipe.  Well, loosely.

I consulted my handy 1950 Betty Crocker's New Picture Cookbook.  I was interested to read "Store covered in jars in the refrigerator.  The layer of fat on top will help preserve the stock." I usually freeze soup stock, and at this time of year freezer space is at a premium, so I gave it a go.  I heated the jars as if I was going to can the stock, then poured the strained (ooh!  used my cheesecloth! bonus!) stock into the hot jars.  I used my plastic screw top lids since they work in the fridge or freezer.  When I was ready to make soup I scooped off the fat layer (reminded me of my mom's wax on top of jam) and poured out the stock.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Red Russian Kale, Tomato, and Eggs Baked in Ham Cups

My mother, myself, most of her best buds from her first job (pre-marriage, pre-kids, when she was Just Herself), and most of the daughters of these women gathered for a weekend in St Louis.  A reunion for the moms, in some cases a first meeting for the daughters.

It is a gift, to hear all about your mom from her friends, when your mom is sitting right next to you.

Three of us daughters got that gift.  Our hostess, Alanna, did not.  Instead, she selflessly created the opportunity for her mother's friends to reminisce about the one member of their group who is no longer with us.  It was a very special weekend.

Alanna, of Kitchen Parade and A Veggie Venture, is a clever Foodie.  She arranged for our meals to be catered by Karen of Family Style Food.  So a bunch of women who all enjoy delicious food got to sit back, relax, visit, and be treated to fabulous dishes like the one I'm writing about today.

This dish was inspired by Karen's Individual Prosciutto, Spinach, and Egg Pies.  I loved it at that weekend, begged for the recipe, and have made it on many occasions since.  It's great for a weekend brunch, a weeknight dinner, even a PTA teacher appreciation breakfast!  Extra veggies without bread products are always appreciated on a breakfast spread.

I usually don't have baby spinach, the original veggie.  But many other greens from the farm share or the garden or the farmer's market will work--Swiss chard, Tat soi, or the Red Russian kale used here to name a few.

The original recipe uses prosciutto, but I had a fair amount of ham slices on hand so I decided to forgo a trip to the grocery store and use what I got.  Frugality!

If you happen to have 4 sizes of muffin tins like I do, let's start a support group use the second largest.  It's larger than a standard muffin tin (7/8 ounce vs 3/8 ounce). If you only have the standard muffin tin, just use a little bit less of everything but the egg.