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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bacon, Beef and Beet Chili

A hearty chili of beef, beets, and tomatoes--flavored with bacon.

Chili is good for hockey season. When I have an afternoon available I'll make a pot of chili on a back burner while processing vegetables or making another dinner. The chili goes into the fridge for later in the week, then on the appointed day hangs out in the crock pot on Warm.  All day.  I just need someone {my sled hockey player} to grate the cheese and set out the fixings, and it's time to eat.

See the bowl in these photos? I got it at Hot Soups for a Cool Cause, a fundraiser for the Dayton International Peace Museum. My folks and I attend the twice-yearly events since their visits happened to coincide. With my donation I not only got an assortment of delicious soups and excellent conversation--I got to keep the bowl! I was amazed to learn that the potter lives a few blocks away--small world. I did not have this chili at the fundraiser (though I had a tasty borscht last month at the Cool Soups for a Hot Cause event). Instead, I pulled it out of my ear--doing a bit of a riff on my Acorn Squash, Beet and Sweet Potato Chili.

Our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmers are great at growing beets.  The family is just not that into beets, despite 8 years of exposure to this delicious vegetable. No matter. If we get beets in the farm share, we get beets in our bellies. We eat what is in the fridge. Or else!
This time, bacon was my vehicle to facilitate the beets' acceptance. A little bacon goes a long way, flavor-wise, so I am glad to incorporate some into this chili. I'm gratified that the kids like chili--it's easy to cook, reheats well, and can assimilate a bunch of vegetables.

I've updated my Visual Recipe Index--for more recipes featuring beets, check out my Beet Recipes Collection!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Shepherd's Pie with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Green Beans

Ground beef, slow-roasted tomatoes, and green beans tucked underneath a mashed potato crust.

Do you have any roasted tomatoes in your freezer? Ever since I first read Alanna's tutorial on Slow Roasted tomatoes, I've managed to put up at least a few bags each year. This year it's been cool enough that I've been roasting and canning in equal amounts.

I add roasted tomatoes primarily to spaghetti sauce, but every once in a while I play, like with this Enchilada sauce. This recipe uses leftover mashed potatoes and slow-roasted tomatoes to make an improved--and soup can free [not that there's anything wrong with a can of soup] version of a family favorite casserole.
I usually make my beloved Shepherd's Pie with a can of tomato soup. Since I've canned so many tomatoes and learned how to make Creamy Tomato Soup with Home-canned Tomatoes I don't have any tomato soup cans left in the pantry. I've still got cream of chicken soup for my Turkey Divan, though, and I don't foresee altering that recipe any time soon. My family loves it just the way it is.  Except I've got a kale version coming . . . but hey, that was my spouse's idea.

When you've got excess fresh green beans it's simple to freeze them. Trim to bite size, snap off the ends and strings [yes, there are many stringless varieties but I like sitting around nagging snapping beans with my family. I think it builds character relationships]. Blanch the beans [quickly dip into boiling water for a minute until they are bright green, then scoop out and dunk in cold water]. Spin them dry, lay out on a parchment or wax paper-lined tray, and freeze for several hours. I usually do this when I'm cooking pasta--do the beans first--and freeze overnight. I never dunk my beans in an ice water bath.  If I ever live in a place with an automatic ice maker, perhaps I'll try it.  Once the beans are frozen, transfer to bags or jars for long term storage.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fresh Corn & Hatch Chile Sauté

Fresh sweet corn cut right off the cob, sautéed with roasted Hatch chiles, tomatoes, and onion for a simple, fast and flavorful vegetarian or vegan side dish

Fresh Corn & Hatch Chile Sauté | Farm Fresh Feasts

I'm really not sure why this dish exceeded my expectations. If you start with fresh, local, seasonal ingredients you invariably come up with delicious foods with little effort. One example is this colorful side of freshly sautéed corn kernels spiced up with roasted Hatch chiles.

I was so busy with the social media sharing aspect of #IceCreamWeek [have you entered? the giveaway ends 31 August. One winner takes ALL. Enter here!] that I had very little mental energy for thinking up new and interesting ways to cook the veggies in our farm share.

Fresh Corn & Hatch Chile Sauté | Farm Fresh Feasts

Friday, August 8, 2014

Zucchini Bacon Pizza

Everything's better with bacon? Well, bacon sure makes the August zucchini crop extra tasty on this pizza with fontina cheese, zucchini, and fresh tomato pesto

Zucchini Bacon Pizza from Farm Fresh Feasts

This summer is not the summer of monster zucchini--not in my garden nor in our farm share.  [It is, however, the summer that I harvested a 42 pound volunteer--meaning I didn't plant that--pumpkin the first week of August! You can see us here on my FB page.] Nope, all of the zucchini and summer squash has been harvested in lovely small tender sizes--perfect for grilling or slicing and using on a pizza. Then again I think everything is perfect for a pizza.

I'm having an interesting summer so far with the produce from the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share.  Normally my kids do not readily embrace all of the vegetables, so I shred and tuck them in here and combine there so that I'm serving meals that contain a lot of vegetables but don't have lots of single vegetables dishes, if that makes sense. 

This summer, the kids have realized how tasty a zucchini pancake (or crepe, or fritter) is, so we've been making them often. [Turnip fritters, too--and I've got a beet hanging out in the crisper waiting it's turn to fritter away . . .] They are also eating peppers and onions in their eggs and on pizza. Crazy--is it teenagers, or is it because it's our 9th season eating from the farm share (more than half of their lives, both of them!) and the constant exposure to all the vegetables has worked?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Tomato Basil Pizza

Slices of fresh ripe tomatoes and fresh basil leaves for an 'in summer only' vegetarian pizza

Tomato Basil Pizza from Farm Fresh Feasts

I learned a trick that has dramatically improved my summer pizzas topped with fresh sliced tomatoes:  just let them hang out for a while. Previous attempts at fresh tomato and basil pizza tended to result in wet tomatoes and dry basil. Not a good combination on a pizza. 
I cracked the fresh herb code [did you know there was a fresh herb code? Now you do] with my Fresh Herb Pizza, so I figured it was time to crack the tomato code.  The Illuminati are not involved. Just time and a bit of salt.

Tomato Basil Pizza from Farm Fresh Feasts

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Squash in Spaghetti Sauce Side Dish

Summer squash simmered with spaghetti sauce and a hunk of parmesan rind--easy, simple, summer side dish and another Fast from the Farm Share idea

Summer Squash in Spaghetti Sauce Side Dish | Farm Fresh Feasts

In my house, having the dinner table filled with an assortment of side dishes is a rare occurrence saved for Big Meal Events like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. I love vegetable side dishes, though, so their absence on the table is entirely due to the hassle factor of preparing multiple courses and having everything ready simultaneously.

In reality, prepping a few more vegetable side dishes doesn't take that much work. It's more my perception of the effort involved, I think, or perhaps the extra dishes that I'll end up washing. I mean, when going to eat at family-style restaurants [I'm thinking Frankenmuth, Michigan and Lancaster, Pennsylvania] I'm presented with an array of 'heat-and-hold' or 'served cold' sides. Granted, there's probably a Hobart in the kitchen and multiple folks chopping and stirring . . .

My friend Felicia's mom was terrific at setting an everyday meal with a bunch of homegrown vegetable sides. I have fond memories of staying for dinner after an afternoon of studying and being treated to such delicious food--especially a stewed tomato and zucchini dish that, wow, more than 20 years later still has the power to make me drool.

Summer Squash in Spaghetti Sauce Side Dish | Farm Fresh Feasts

I channeled those flavors in this side dish--simmered tomatoes, summer squash, and parmesan cheese. This side dish can hang out on a low burner for a good while, ready to grace the table when you're done with everything else. With only 3 ingredients (plus salt, pepper, and oil) it's easy to throw together.  I made it by grilling the squash then combining with the spaghetti sauce on the stove, but sautéing the squash then adding the spaghetti sauce would also work great.  Heck, if you felt like cranking up the oven you could roast the squash then toss it with the spaghetti sauce and bake it in the oven. Easy.
Summer Squash in Spaghetti Sauce Side Dish | Farm Fresh Feasts

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fresh Tomato Pesto with Mushroom, Olive, Artichoke and Feta Pizza (Pizza Night!)

Sautéed mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts with feta and fontina over fresh tomato pesto

Fresh Tomato Pesto with Mushroom, Olive, Artichoke and Feta Pizza  | Farm Fresh Feasts

Those of you who subscribe to my blog via email or somehow grab the RSS feed [thank you!] were treated to an unwitting peek behind the scenes one week ago when the rough draft version of this post went live without my awareness.
When I was plotting out the pizza posts for July I’d tentatively scheduled this one for the first Friday. Then I thought of fireworks, changed my mind, finished up the Pepperoni and Yellow Squash pizza and scheduled it for the same day. I didn’t notice that I still had the draft of this pizza scheduled for later the same day, and didn’t even check that the pizza had posted properly when I first woke up. Nope, I went about my July 4th—packing and traveling to visit family, not even checking email until late afternoon when I was surprised to see the draft was live and sent out in my RSS feed.  Oops!
Fresh Tomato Pesto with Mushroom, Olive, Artichoke and Feta Pizza  | Farm Fresh Feasts

I wanted to get this pizza up because it uses Fresh Tomato Pesto and I think you should try your hand at making this tasty concoction at least once during tomato season. Even though the tomatoes in my garden are as green as the squash plants that have taken over, the nights are warm (for ripening) and we got our first tomato in the farm share this week. [I’m making a BLT out of it, not this pesto.  I have my priorities for the first tomato of the summer.]

Fresh Tomato Pesto with Mushroom, Olive, Artichoke and Feta Pizza  | Farm Fresh Feasts

Fresh Tomato Pesto is easy to make, stores well in the freezer, and can be used as a dip for chips or vegetables, a pasta sauce, or on pizzas. I’ve been sharing a lot of meat pizzas lately [just updated my Visual Pizza Recipe Index] and it’s past time for a vegetarian one.

Fresh Tomato Pesto with Mushroom, Olive, Artichoke and Feta Pizza  | Farm Fresh Feasts

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Heirloom Tomato and Garlic Scape Pesto Tart {Get to Know a Farmer}

Heirloom tomatoes and marinated mozzarella balls snuggled under a blanket of garlic scape pesto and more mozzarella make a rich savory tart--or delightful breakfast.

Heirloom Tomato and Garlic Scape Pesto Tart {Get to Know a Farmer} | Farm Fresh Feasts

If you read one of those 13 Farmers Market Secrets Savvy Shoppers Share type articles, one of the tips is invariably "get to know a farmer".  Joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share is a terrific way to get to know a farmer.  For the duration of the growing season you'll have the opportunity to visit with the folks who grow your food.  This "get to know a farmer" stuff can pay off deliciously [and for me the payoff is usually locally grown tomatoes].

There is nothing better than a locally grown tomato.

Tomatoes have seasons.  Some get off to a quick start like cherry tomatoes and early varieties. Some take their sweet time growing and setting out fruit, to the point that you think they'll never amount to anything, but once they get going they're unstoppable 'til frost.* Some suffer setbacks early on--like nibbling from varmints--yet recover to become a big bushy productive plant.  They are a lot like kids, now that I think on it.
I'm talking about tomatoes, and getting to know your farmers, today for the simple reason that this recipe happened, last November, because I got to know our farmers. See, my spouse spent last tomato season in Afghanistan. He missed out on eating fresh tomatoes and our daily lives [not in that order]. Sure, they fed him from May to November. But he always returns from deployments super skinny so I'm always frantically cleaning planning menus with all his favorite foods when I know he's heading home.

It was with this mindset that I asked our farmers in early November if they had a spare tomato. I'd canned all the ones from my garden, and we'd had oh, easily 12+ weeks of various ripe tomato varieties in the farm share. I'm sure most folks were more enthused about the prospect of a sweet potato. But I wanted to make my spouse a tomato sandwich, so I emailed our farmers with the request.  You may, if you love local tomatoes, understand the sheer delight when my newly-returned spouse and I went to pick up our farm share and Farmer Josh disappeared for a moment then returned with not one but 4 gorgeous heirloom tomatoes.  Swoon! In addition to that sandwich I had enough for this tart--double points for a rich tart that's one of my spouse's favorite tomato dishes.

Get to know a farmer.  It's so worth it.

Friday, May 2, 2014

{HNTM} Lou Malnati's Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza

{How Not to Make} Lou Malnati's Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza, packed with sausage and cheese and flavorful tomato sauce.

{How Not to Make} Lou Malnati's Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza, packed with sausage and cheese and flavorful tomato sauce.

Don't worry, like the trashy romance novels I adore, there is a happy ending [and a viable recipe] at the end of this post.  But when you find yourself saying 

"once I drained the pizza, it tasted pretty good"
you know there's a story worth sharing.

 Follow me | Pinterest | Instagram | Facebook

Once upon a time [actually last month] a family traveled to Chicago for a short vacation. The dad planned out the route, the lodging, and the sights to see.  The mom prepared what to eat en route, arranged for the dogs to spend their first nights away from the family at a loving kennel, and scouted pizza places to try Chicago's famous deep dish style pizza.  [The kids grumbled about not spending a week lying on the couch staring at screens.]
Forgetting that pesky time zone thing, we arrived early enough to walk/roll around the downtown area, and especially to walk to the first pizza place on The List:  Lou Malnati's.  We ordered a Chicago Classic and a Lou. When they arrived, I took some mental notes:
  • The crust is not puffy, not like a yeasted dough that's allowed to rise at the edges.  It's not like Zebra Room flaky pie crust either. It's crispy/crunchy . . . maybe cornmeal?
  • The sausage was undisturbed until I cut through it with my fork--it was in a disc the size of the pizza pan, and without browned edges--I think it was placed raw on the pizza and cooked during the pizza baking time.
  • The tomatoes don't look like tomato sauce--they look more like my canned crushed tomatoes.  The juice is clear, not cloudy like in a cooked sauce with tomato paste.
And the taste?  Delicious!  Must re-create at home.
{How Not to Make} Lou Malnati's Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza, packed with sausage and cheese and flavorful tomato sauce.

With a basic idea in mind I set out to make a deep dish pizza.  My previous attempt at a deep dish pizza ended in a spectacularly inedible failure, shown on my FB page, when I attempted to cram way too much Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share spinach into the pizza.  But that merely tasted terrible.

My first attempt at a pizza similar to Lou Malnati's Chicago Classic involved grabbing a ball of previously fresh mozzarella out of the freezer.  Now, I know that using thawed balls of mozzarella results in a seedy pizza.  I've commented here about the phenomenon. However, I didn't heed my own advice.  First Big Mistake.

I also scooped out the crushed tomatoes using a slotted spoon, which meant that the tomatoes were already pretty juicy when they went onto the pizza. You know the heat of the oven is going to denature the proteins in the plant cell walls, causing them to burst and release more fluid--so that was my Second Big Mistake.

With those two mistakes synergizing in my skillet, it's no wonder why it happened. When I pulled the skillet out, the pizza looked great--if a little jiggly.  The cheese was browned, the sausage cooked and the crust was crisp--what you want in a pizza.

Then I tried to extricate the pizza, and a tsunami of fluid swarmed out--over the skillet, the counter, the cooling rack, and into the sink [everywhere but where the dogs could reach--they were disappointed]. Thus leading me to the comment.

{How Not to Make} Lou Malnati's Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza, packed with sausage and cheese and flavorful tomato sauce.
"once I drained the pizza, it tasted pretty good"

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Creamy Tomato Soup with Home-Canned Tomatoes

A creamy tomato soup made with home-canned tomatoes, pesto, and roasted garlic.

A creamy tomato soup made with home-canned tomatoes, pesto, and roasted garlic.

 Follow me | Pinterest | Instagram | Facebook

Grilled Cheese Sandwich month (season? day? week?) is coming, and before I share my fig-filled, or my tomato jam-spread, or my guacamole & corn grilled cheese creations I'd like to share the perfect accessory for all good grilled cheese sandwich meals--tomato soup.

A creamy tomato soup made with home-canned tomatoes, pesto, and roasted garlic.

Truth be told, I was a huge fan of the red & white can as recently as last year.  Heck, some of my favorite winter school day breakfasts as a kid were cups of tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. What changed for me was the realization that I had the key ingredient to make a deliciously flavorful tomato soup right at my fingertips--a pantry with jars of home-canned tomatoes.  I'm going to tell you about canning tomatoes when it's NOT canning season for one reason:  to lay the groundwork/plant the seed in your brain, so that when summer comes you've had time to mull over the concept. [I'm honest and upfront with my brainwashing techniques.]

A creamy tomato soup made with home-canned tomatoes, pesto, and roasted garlic.
Canning need not be 3 generations slaving away in the kitchen. But it's fun if it turns out that way :)

Putting up tomatoes is a terrific way to step into the Big Scary World of Canning.  With a tall pot, a bunch of quart-sized canning jars--I would borrow from a friend a funnel and a pair of tongs jar lifter your first time--you can have the building blocks for a variety of meals.  If you don't grow your own tomatoes you've got plenty of options for amassing a canning quantity.

A creamy tomato soup made with home-canned tomatoes, pesto, and roasted garlic.
You do NOT need all of these supplies to can a few quarts of crushed tomatoes!
  • If you've got neighbors who are overrun with ripe tomatoes, especially neighbors who are older than you, offer to put up the whole mess and share the preserved bounty with the gardener. 
  • Ask your Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmer to sell you extras.  Your farmers will be delighted to have ripe tomatoes go quickly and easily to a good home.
  • If you don't participate in a CSA but do frequent the farmer's market, tell a farmer that you're interested in "seconds" or "canning tomatoes", and when tomatoes are abundant you'll be doing each other a favor buying ripe and ready, perhaps slightly cosmetically damaged, tomatoes for a good price.
When I put up crushed tomatoes I follow the basic method--shared on the Pick Your Own website, on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website, on the Food In Jars blog, and in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (Amazon affiliate link) that I checked out of my local library a bunch of times before buying my own copy.

A creamy tomato soup made with home-canned tomatoes, pesto, and roasted garlic.
Gratuitiously long caption as I don't know how to make words appear when you hover over the photo (though I do know how to link parts of a collage to other posts):  All you need to can is a tall pot with some sort of shelf to keep the jars off the bottom; and jars, and water--lots of water; and a heat source to heat that water (and heat the tomatoes, too); tomatoes, lemon juice and salt and a sharp knife to cut the tomatoes plus a bucket to store the peels before they go to the compost, and a flat surface for them to cool, and a pantry to store your bounty. And the floating tomatoes?  I screwed up and let them get cool in between packing and processing. No problem, still good eating.

Canning crushed tomatoes is safe and easy if you follow the directions.  Just peel the tomatoes, squish the tomatoes, pack the squished tomatoes into clean jars with salt and lemon juice, and stick 'em under boiling water according to the methods I've linked to above.
Honestly, it's trickier to bake a cake--and not from scratch, I'm talking from a mix.  Did you measure the oil and water correctly? Are there shells in the batter? How do you know you've beaten it long enough?  How do you know if the pan is properly prepared?  How do you know if the top springs back enough? Sheesh! Tomatoes are acidic enough to start off, and you further make the environment hostile to undesirable stuff by adding lemon juice to each jar.  Follow the method from the sites above and you'll be successful. [/brainwashing]

A creamy tomato soup made with home-canned tomatoes, pesto, and roasted garlic.

Once you've got a quart of crushed tomatoes, soup is a short simmer away.  [Or a long simmer, if your spouse is unexpectedly delayed and dinner is late.]

For other recipes using tomatoes, canned or otherwise, please see my Red & Yellow Tomato Recipes Collection or my Green Tomato Recipes Collection, 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?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili with Hatch Chiles, Corn, and Beef

Sweet and spicy chili that simmers in the slow cooker for an easy supper. This chili has beef, sweet potatoes, 3 kinds of beans, corn, peppers and Hatch chiles for amazing flavor

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili with Hatch Chiles, Corn, and Beef | Farm Fresh Feasts

 Follow me | Pinterest | Instagram | Facebook

When my friend Mary brought her Sweet Potato and Black Bean chili to the thrift shop for lunch, I spooned up that bowl of spicy comfort and was smitten.  Mary's chili, adapted from The Clueless Vegetarian (Amazon affiliate link) was spicy yet went down smoothly, and like all great chilies each person can customize their bowl with a variety of toppings.
I don't know about you, but I tend to become smitten with foods and cook them over and over.  Being a seasonal eater works well with this tendency, because I'm always moving onto what's up next, seasonally, and don't really have time to get into food ruts. At least it works well when fresh vegetables are appearing each week in our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share box!  During the winter months I tend to rely on the produce that can store longer, like the sweet potatoes and butternut squash in the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve, as well as vegetables I've canned or frozen.
I was so smitten with this chili that I made it several times. Each time I loved it even more.  My kids gobbled it up.  Shoot, it was even the first leftover my spouse scrounged out of the fridge when he returned from his most recent deployment.  The combination of colorful beans and sweet potatoes from this chili inspired my Harvest Sweet Potato Salsa.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili with Hatch Chiles, Corn, and Beef | Farm Fresh Feasts

Serving chili is a great meal for a variety of eaters--you can top it with a whole host of extras if you like.  Some of our favorite toppings:
  • red and green salsas
  • pickled peppers
  • black olives
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • tortilla chips
My friend Rebbie hosted a chili party which included an oven full of baked potatoes.  My kids created their own loaded baked potatoes from Rebbie's topping selections and missed out on her award-winning chili, but we all went home full and happy.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Confetti Turkey Enchiladas with Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce

Turkey, carrots, and zucchini make a colorful filling for enchiladas in a hearty dish covered in an easy to make slow-roasted tomato enchilada sauce

Confetti Turkey Enchiladas with Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce | Farm Fresh Feasts

 Follow me | Pinterest | Instagram | Facebook

This is a recipe showing how I use put-up summer produce during the winter months when we are not receiving a weekly box from our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share.  If you don't have a package of slow-roasted tomatoes in your freezer (link to Alanna's tutorial), please refer to Andrea's inspiring Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce recipe below which uses canned tomato sauce.  And put this idea in your back pocket--if you get a glut of tomatoes in the early fall (and have some room in the freezer) consider slow-roasting some.  It's ridiculously simple and the end product is nearly as handy to use as the quarts of crushed tomatoes I've got in the pantry.

Confetti Turkey Enchiladas with Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce | Farm Fresh Feasts

I was going to share this recipe during the summer, because it calls for tomatoes and zucchini and I'm all about the seasonal eating, but it's here today for a couple of reasons.
I'll list them, just for kicks.

  • I've got a backlog of enchilada recipes (technically, 4) that I need to post, and there's no time like the present to start sharing them.
  • I made a pan of Creamy Avocado Enchiladas today and it reminded me of these.
  • I'm still reeling from the shock of posting a savory appetizer every day last week for #AppetizerWeek, and I realized I didn't have anything scheduled for today.
While my belly is full of Creamy Avocado Enchiladas, I bring you Confetti Turkey Enchiladas.
Other enchilada recipes I've posted:

Confetti Turkey Enchiladas with Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce | Farm Fresh Feasts

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Harvest Sweet Potato Salsa

Roasted sweet potatoes and corn tossed with beans and avocado in an red and green salsa dressing. One of the ways I put up food to eat local all year long.

Harvest Sweet Potato Salsa | Farm Fresh Feasts

When the garden is barren and there's snow falling down is a strange time to talk about harvest and abundant vegetables, no?

 Follow me | Pinterest | Instagram | Facebook

Harvest Sweet Potato Salsa | Farm Fresh Feasts

I think it's exactly the right time.  You see, the vegetables I used in this salsa--the corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and tomatillos that is*--came from my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share.  George, Mark, Josh and Erik of Patchwork Gardens grew and harvested them, and we got a weekly box of locally-grown vegetables during the growing season.  Once in my kitchen, I performed Vegetable Triage--eating what won't keep, freezing or canning what can be put up, and using a cold corner of my breakfast nook as my Strategic Winter Squash Reserve (link to a photo on my FB page) for the long storage crops.  Even though the fields are brown, we're still eating the fruits of our farmers' labors.

Harvest Sweet Potato Salsa | Farm Fresh Feasts

If you'd like to know more about where your food is grown, now is the time to research local eating in your area.  Up on the left sidebar is a Local Harvest gadget.  If you're in the US, type in your zip code and see what's available near you.  Signing up with a CSA farm share before the season starts means your farmers will have the funds to purchase or repair equipment like the potato harvester shown here, which harvested the sweet potatoes I used in this salsa.

Roasted sweet potatoes and corn tossed with beans and avocado in an red and green salsa dressing. One of the ways I put up food to eat local all year long.
Photo credit Marguerite Mertz/Patchwork Gardens
*See the avocados in the second photo? Yeah, they sure are not local to Ohio and one of the reasons (along with bananas and salmon, vanilla and chocolate, tea and olive oil) that I will never be a completely local eater.  To me, local food just tastes better (think garden tomato vs store-bought) so I put my efforts into eating local food where I can.  I am fortunate to have a choice where I spend my dollars on food, and I choose to keep my money in my local community when possible.  It's why I started this blog and organized my Visual Recipe Index by produce type--to help other folks eat locally as well.

Harvest Sweet Potato Salsa | Farm Fresh Feasts

Visit all the other Appetizer Week Peeps for more Munchie Causing Goodness:

Friday, December 13, 2013

Chicken Spaghetti Pizza

Shredded, cooked chicken and chunky spaghetti sauce topped with fresh mozzarella

Chicken Spaghetti Pizza | Farm Fresh Feasts

I've been reading about comfort foods recently.   Jen's round up at Savory Simple  and Julie's round up at Texan New Yorker have me drooling and plotting what to make with and without my Strategic Winter Squash Reserve.  The weather is cold, it's icy out (the wiener dogs are ALL BUSINESS on walks, whereas Simon the Lab mix is prone to frolicking) and it just feels good to cocoon at home.  Who am I kidding?  I always like to cocoon at home!

It's funny, when I reflect back on the foods I liked growing up, how many of what were 'frugal' meals (we called them 'cheap night' dinners), are the ones I remember fondly.  In fact, a dish of sautéed beet greens is my version of mom's Swiss chard side dish.  We probably ate it because we grew Swiss chard in the garden and therefore it was less expensive (and more delicious, and nutritious) than buying vegetables in the store--but to me it's pure comfort food.

One of those memorable meals is Chicken Spaghetti.  I haven't made it in years--but Mom emailed me the recipe . . . um, twice (I'm a bit distracted) . . . and I will.  Before I do, though, I can share this pizza.  I was looking through the fridge for something to top our Friday Night Pizza Night when I realized we had both leftover chicken and leftover spaghetti sauce.
My friend Miho once said I had a fridge like Aunt Dorothy--you could find such a variety of leftovers.  Although I'd never met Aunt Dorothy, I do have an astonishing variety of leftovers almost all the time.  I even sent a full--leftover--Thanksgiving meal to folks who unexpectedly ended up in the hospital during a vacation in our city.  In April.  No, the leftovers were not 6 months old, nor was I blogging and shooting photos ahead of time.  I'd fixed a Thanksgiving meal for the spouse after a deployment.
Back to pizza.  Why not a Chicken Spaghetti Pizza?  It's a comfort food that tastes wonderful and uses up leftovers as well.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Everything Bagel Focaccia Bar (Pizza Night!)

Chewy focaccia seasoned like an everything bagel, topped with your favorite bagel toppings

Everything Bagel Focaccia Bar | Farm Fresh Feasts

There are foods that I like to splurge and treat myself to now and again.  One of them is a good everything bagel, toasted under the broiler then spread with cream cheese, topped with lox, red onion, capers, and--if they are in season in my garden/the farm share--a slice of tomato.  Like Albert in the book Bread and Jam for Frances (Amazon affiliate link) I set my meal up just so, and it makes me happy.

The first time I tried to recreate my treat on a pizza, one year ago's Potato Smoked Salmon Red Onion and Caper Pizza, the pizza, while tasty, missed the mark of what I wanted to capture.  When I first made a focaccia I realized what I'd wanted was the chewiness of the crust, and made a mental note to find Everything Bagel seasoning and try it out.

Fast forward to summer.  While at the beach at a spice store steps away from the boardwalk (I'd think that wasn't a great location, but they got my business) I found it.  As I drove back to Ohio I had my daughter take notes of all the recipe ideas in my head.  The first one I tried was Everything Bagel Focaccia.  It was good--but still needed some tweaking.

Everything Bagel Focaccia Bar | Farm Fresh Feasts
First try--too thick, and not "everything" enough.
Third time was the charm for me (and for you!), and I present you with a focaccia flavored like an everything bagel yet not so messy (I hate all the crunchy bits that fall off, though they are tasty scooped up and secured with cream cheese), safe to eat if your parents have invested much money in your mouth and don't want you to screw up your braces, and the perfect set up for a late brunch bar with assorted toppings.

For my birthday I'd like to share a Friday Night Pizza Night version of one of my favorite foods. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Layered Summer Veggie Appetizer

When you think about appetizers, do you throw a bone to the healthy contingent and include some carrot sticks and hummus?  Is your conscience soothed by adding celery sticks to your Buffalo chicken dip?  Do you pick up a veggie tray at the store and call it good?

Are vegetable appetizers an afterthought?
I want to change that.

I'm on a quest to create awesome vegetable appetizers--ones that are demolished before the cocktail weenies or cheese balls, because they are just damn good.  I've got a Pinterest board, Awesome Veggie Apps and Snacks, and as I find new ways to turn vegetables into desirable appetizers I'm pinning them there.  Please leave suggestions in the comments so I can add them--thanks!

Layered Summer Veggie Appetizer
Cherry tomato confit, cucumbers, banana peppers, artichoke hearts, olives and feta
Last winter, I started things off here with a Slow Cooker Salmon Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip and a Skillet Mushroom Dip for Two.  In the spring I started a craving for Five Layer Mediterranean Chicken (or Chick Pea) Dip that continues today.  Lately, I've been kinda dippy, with Fattoush Dip with Kale and Sumac Hummus and Indian-spiced Eggplant Yogurt Dip.  Today I want to share another delicious way to incorporate seasonal vegetables into your happy hour, cook out, tail gate, or indulgent dinner for one:  the Layered Summer Vegetable Appetizer.

While the autumnal equinox is weeks away here in North America, the mood has shifted to autumn.  The kids are in school, football marching band season is in full swing, and the sled hockey gear is back out. However, the garden and the farm share are packed with late summer vegetables--peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and squash are filling up my weekly box.  I created this layered appetizer to show off the best of late summer produce.

Layered Summer Veggie Appetizer
Grilled red peppers, grilled red onion, grilled yellow squash, artichoke hearts and feta

Discerning readers will say "hey, that looks like the Fattoush Dip she posted 3 weeks ago" and you'd be correct.  Other clever followers will think "what, another Wednesday eggplant dip recipe?"  Right again.  However, I'm sharing this recipe now, not next summer, for a few reasons:
  • the base of this appetizer, roasted eggplant, is still very much in season and you might be looking for new ways to enjoy it
  • I think this is a party-worthy appetizer, and while I'm not hosting anything until Fall, you may be looking for new appetizer recipes
  • with the variety of special diets around, vegetables are a great way to create a dish that nearly everyone can enjoy

Monday, August 19, 2013

Slow Cooker Squash and Beef Masala

Indian spices, patty pan squash and ground beef comingle in this slow cooker supper.  A tasty way to feed the family from the farm share on a busy afternoon.

Slow Cooker Squash and Beef Masala

With school starting I feel like I'm supposed to say our days will get busier, but more than the busier Fall days, I am looking forward to the structure of the coming weeks.  Without any structure to each week (my activities have been irregular this summer), meals and meal times have really been fluid.  We'll eat lunch at 2 pm, then not really be hungry for dinner.  Having the kids up at ___ time, out the door at ___ time, with evening activities at ___ time will give me a framework on which to hang meals.  Then my spouse will return, and we'll soon be in the swing our our family routine again.  I'm looking forward to that.

I use my slow cooker year round, but not often enough for it to get Pride of Place in the kitchen.  It lives in the basement Active Storage area.  Technically I have 3 slow cookers, so they live in this area.
[My spouse has an engineer brain, so we have an Active Storage area and a Cold Storage area--which doesn't store food, but does store less frequently accessed items like Christmas decorations.]  I primarily use my ancient 3-4 Quart Crock pot, but I love to heat spaghetti sauce in my little one (for the days when my son is in charge of boiling the noodles right before the rest of us get home) and make Kalua Pig or soup stock in my large one.

I developed this recipe from a desire to use some of the cow in the freezer and the patty pan squash from the CSA farm share in a form that my kids would enjoy over multiple meals.  They loved Rebecca of Foodie With Family's Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala when I riffed off it to make my Slow Cooker Chicken and Chick Pea Tikka Masala.  I figured I'd do something similar.  Since tikka = chicken it makes no sense to title this dish "Tikka" anything as there's no chicken in it, but since masala = a sauce, usually with tomatoes and spices and cream, I'm good with my title.  This makes a lot, and the leftovers are good in a thermos for a school or work lunch.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mediterranean Tomato Tart (artichokes, green olives, arugula, feta)

A savory tart of tomatoes topped with an artichoke, arugula pesto, and green olive mixture with plenty of cheeses.

I know I've been about the Mediterranean lately, with my Fattoush dip, the slow cooker Greek chicken tacos, and the five layer Mediterranean dip.  Is it my subconscious calling for a vacation?  I took a vacation last week (and thankfully did this post all up well beforehand so I didn't have to rush around and write in the post-endless driving/massive laundry doing/when do I get to kick back? phase).  The pictures are not as good as some I've taken since I learned how to take better ones, but the flavor of this tart is delicious.

I created this recipe from a desire to have a less 'cheesy rich' version of the Basil Tomato Tart.  It has the tasty combination of artichoke hearts and green olives.  I first tried that on pizza and wow!  I'd never cared for olives until I had an artichoke and green olive pizza.  Now I love them and can eat them any way.  If you don't have arugula pesto, any pesto would substitute.  But if you're overrun with arugula, try this pesto.  I got the pesto recipe from Farmer John's The Real Dirt on Vegetables.  It's a great cookbook I bought through my CSA back in Virginia, Blenheim Organic Gardens.
Hey guess what?  Store bought pie crust still.  One of these days . . . but no, first things first.  Since I've been reading Cooked by Michael Pollan with the HOMEGROWN book club I'm more interested in sourdough bread and kimchi than in pie crust.  This morning I start my sourdough starter, so in a week I'll be rolling in the dough . . .

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fattoush Dip with Kale Hummus

Subtitle:  A Fast Farm Share Dip Dinner

Freshly chopped summer produce and preserved vegetables layered over a bed of kale hummus and topped with pita chip croutons.

The other day I shared how I can or freeze summer produce to enjoy during the winter.  Today I'm sharing how I can take the fresh farm share bounty and make a fast supper (for one) or appetizer (for two) in minutes.

I've travelled across the middle of the US recently, and many non-highway roads I've been on have had farm stands.  These stands are selling tomatoes, melons, corn, peaches, cucumbers, squash--the bulk of the summer produce is ripe and ready from Michigan to Delaware (and probably other places, but I haven't been to them this week).
A CSA farm share haul from a few weeks back.
With all this ripe fresh goodness at your fingertips, making a quick and delicious dinner is easy.  I brought home the farm share box, realized we had plenty of leftovers for the kids to scrounge dinner, and decided to treat myself to a riff on my Five Layer Mediterranean Chicken Dip.  I'd first made that dip before cucumbers and tomatoes were in season, and I'd thought the concept (base of dip topped with goodies and eaten with pita chips) was a good one. Mine started with a base of Kale and Sumac Hummus (recipe below) but any hummus will do.  I also keep a few jarred vegetables on hand (olives and artichoke hearts) to add some layers of flavor to the fresh produce.
As an aside, in my Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient (a page on the bar above) I have a category for Veggies in Jars where I index my recipes that use artichokes and olives, as well as capers and sun dried tomatoes and probably something else.
All I needed to do was grab a cucumber, a banana pepper, a couple of tomatoes, and after a few minutes of chopping I had a fresh crunchy cool zingy dinner ready to go.  When I realized that I'd unwittingly combined many elements of Fattoush into an appetizer, I decided to call this Fattoush Dip with Kale Hummus.

Only one problem--I was at the end of the bag of pita chips.  So I quickly regrouped (I am a military spouse, after all, and plan F or U or B or R is my specialty), used the pita chip crumbs as croutons, and turned this into an appetizer eaten with a spoon.