Dinner

Quick garden fresh tomato sauce

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Over the years I have processed my tomatoes using different methods. Freezing them as sauces, freezing them as chunks and cooking down and canning them as well. I can’t say that I loved anything that I have done before or that I have a true plan of what to do with all of them.. This year I have so far made salsa, spaghetti sauce and yesterday I made pizza sauce. All were successes.

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I used my potato smasher to breakdown the tomatoes even more

Yesterday I was also canning the last of the pickles, I have a ridiculous 50 pint size jars of pickles and since the water was already boiling I processed the salsa we didn’t eat so we could have it for later. I think I have found out how to deal with all the tomatoes last Wednesday night after work I made homemade spaghetti sauce and Italian meatballs for dinner. They were delicious and I used up all of the ripe tomatoes I had on hand. Yesterday I made pizza sauce with the next batch of ripe tomatoes.
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I like this recipe for fresh garden tomato sauce because it came together fast enough for a weeknight dinner. My husband was pretty surprised I pulled it off in only a few hours; most of it hands off. He thought you had to cook them down pretty much all day to have it taste good. Proved him wrong.
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Quick fresh garden tomato sauce
a great way to use up some of your garden tomatoes
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 5-8 pounds tomatoes
  2. 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  5. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  6. handful chopped basil
  7. 2 bay leaf
Instructions
  1. If you are using a food mill don't worry about getting all the seeds and skins off.
  2. If you are not using a food mill you will want to cut the tomatoes in half horizontally and squeeze the seeds into a garbage bowl. And you could grate each side of the tomato on a box grate and throw the skins into the garbage bowl.
  3. If you are using a food mill then just chunk up each tomato, I cut around any of the ugliness and the stems.
  4. Add either the chunked tomatoes or the tomato pulp into a low but wide saucepan over high heat. Add the salt, olive oil, tomato paste, garlic, basil and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a brisk simmer.
  5. Reduce the sauce to almost half, stirring occasionally. Until the sauce is medium-thick or to your liking. Season with salt to your taste.
  6. If you are making meatballs like I did, add them to your sauce, it will help season the sauce.
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

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Had to throw some of my sunflowers into the picture!

 

 

Cheesy Mashed Potato Casserole

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Here is another thing to do with leftover mashed or smashed potatoes. I know like that’s a thing it usually is in my house only because I tend to make way too many; pretty much all the time. The great thing about this is you don’t actually to have to wait for leftovers. You can buy mashed potatoes already made from the store, which I will confess they are actually really good or make a batch just for this, Here is what I did.  I had some leftover smashed potatoes, some shredded cheese that needed to be used and literally 4 eggs left in the carton. Which is how it all came together.
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I am not complaining at all but I buy waaaayyy too much food, my fridge and freezers are generally full at all times. I actually get a lot of satisfaction by using up what I have on hand, I try to plan meals around what’s in there and I am trying to have my daughter do the same. She likes to go through cookbooks and make something that catches her eye; which is great but not always what we have on hand.  She is trying more we have a TON of cucumbers so her lunches have been using quite a few of them.

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Sauteing or sweating my onions

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Draining my bacon

OK back to this easy but delicious casserole dish that we had for dinner on Thursday night. I can see this for Sunday brunch for a crowd, who am I kidding I would eat this any day of the week.

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who wouldn’t love this?

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More eggs would fit but I didn’t have anymore!

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OK the site to my recipe isn’t working grrrrrrr.

Ingredients
leftover mashed or smashed potatoes
2 cups shredded cheese
4-6 eggs
1 small onion diced
butter
milk
4 slices bacon
scallions or chives

Directions
If your potatoes need a little more love to make them creamy add some butter and milk while re-heating them.
in a saute pan that can go in your oven heat up a tablespoon of butter and the diced onion; just till translucent
add the creamy potatoes and mix till combined
cover with 3/4 of the cheese
make 4-6 wells with the back of a spoon; one for each egg
crack the eggs into the wells. sprinkle with a little salt and pepper to your liking
cover with the remaining cheese
bake for 12-14 minutes, you want the whites cooked and the yolks a little runny
while in the oven cook your bacon till crisp. I diced mine before cooking so the pieces were more uniformed
once out of the oven sprinkle with bacon and scallions or chives and serve.

 

 

Pasta Swiss Chard & Burrata


Pickles are done – sort of! I emptied the fridge and made 19 jars of pickles. I went out to the garage and there was a basket full of them that hadn’t made their way into the house yet UGH! Not entirely sure we need more pickles but looks like I might have some Christmas gifts started wink wink!

My daughter is a cookbook collector and she doesn’t just collect any and ALL of them she likes the ones that tell a story along with the recipes and it must have a picture of the food. At least those seem to be the ones she is drawn too most. For Christmas I bought her Bringing it home by Gail Simmons. I had a feeling she would like it; she wasn’t so sure so she never even opened it until a week or so ago. And um yup she likes it; she has 6 or so pages marked for things she wants to make and there was a page marked for either of us to make and use up some of the Swiss chard from the garden since that is growing like a weed.


After pickling I decided to make the recipe to use up the Swiss chard she picked, washed and left in the sink. I started it around 8-8:30 and I think we were sitting down to eat around 9:30. Which we never usually eat that late but sometimes you get busy and can’t help it.

Pasta Swiss Chard and Sausage
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound orecchietta pasta or similar
  2. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  3. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  4. 4 garlic cloves, sliced very thin
  5. 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  6. 1 pound Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves chopped into medium size pieces
  7. 2 lemons zested, juice from 1
  8. 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  9. 12 ounces buratta cheese
  10. 2 sweet Italian sausage links (opt) casing removed
Instructions
  1. cook pasta according to package directions - reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
  2. In a medium skillet heat a little olive oil; crumble and brown the sausage and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet add the butter and olive oil, add the garlic, pepper flakes, and a little salt. Cook,stirring occasionally, until the garlic is slightly golden brown, not burned about 2-3 minutes.
  4. add half the Swiss chard and cook down till the leaves are wilted. Add the remaining Swiss chard. the lemon zest and the lemon juice until the leaves are wilted. Remove from the heat.
  5. drain the pasta reserving a cup of the liquid.
  6. Add the pasta and the reserved water, to the Swiss chard,sausage mixture and cook over medium heat for a minute.
  7. Add the grated cheese. Season to taste
  8. spoon into individual bowls. Slice the burrata into cubes. Top pasta with cheese and serve.
Notes
  1. You can find buratta near the mozzarella and feta cheese usually in the specialty cheese section
  2. If you like mozzarella you should try it.
Adapted from Bringing it home - Gail Simmons
Adapted from Bringing it home - Gail Simmons
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

Thankfully it didn’t take too long and it had pretty much everything we like in it lemon, garlic, pasta and cheese. Pretty funny I asked Abbi if she minded that I add some Sweet Italian Sausage; I mean it is her cookbook and I wanted to make sure she didn’t need to make it exactly as written. Sometimes I do that and then the second time around I will tweak it.  It came out great and the sausage is a must in my world. 

Garlic lemon sheet pan chicken thighs

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So I didn’t get to making my pickles last weekend so this weekend it is a must. The cucumbers are still the strongest crop we have this season and both veggie drawers are full.
IMG_4177Last night my son and his fiance were coming over for dinner and to discuss their wedding and reception ideas; yes it is a little over a year away but you have to come up with some sort of plan to give everyone some time to make some of their wishes come true.
IMG_4181I decided that dinner needed to be less hands on so we had plenty of time to chat. Sheet pan dinners are pretty cool and if you have never tried making them you should add it to your list; I bet they will make it into your weekly dinner rotation.
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They are easy, you don’t need a lot of ingredients or do they take a lot of prep time. Your oven does most of the work leaving you time to do more important things. Plus clean up is super quick.
IMG_4183I had a family pack of chicken thighs, my husband picked an onion a turnip some potatoes and a few carrots. Sounds like dinner to me.  Yes I use a few sheet pans but I was making a lot of chicken. And you want to make sure everything has room to roast otherwise your veggies will steam and it’s just not the same.
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Garlic lemon sheet pan chicken thighs
sheet pan dinners
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Ingredients
  1. 8 chicken thighs, bone in skin on
  2. Kosher salt and black pepper
  3. 3 tablespoon olive oil
  4. 1 lemon squeezed
  5. 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  6. 6 cloves garlic, minced
  7. wash, peel and chop 2 or more vegetables of your choice
Instructions
  1. pre-heat oven to 400'F
  2. season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper
  3. in a large bowl add the olive oil, lemon, sugar and garlic
  4. add chicken thighs and let marinade while you peel the vegetables
  5. place the thighs skin side down onto the sheet pan covered in parchment paper
  6. in a clean bowl add the veggies one at a time or all together, olive oil, salt an pepper
  7. add the veggies to another pan and make sure there is room for them to roast or grab another sheet pan to spread them out
  8. bake for 35 minutes, turn the veggies and flip the chicken.
  9. bake for another 30 minutes until the veggies are cooked through slightly browned
  10. If needed set the oven to broil and brown the chicken skin - I had to.
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

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Pasta Swiss Chard and Sausage

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I believe I mentioned a few posts ago how I was going to leave the entire garden to my husband. I am basically still being true to my word. I have only harvested a few asparagus and only weeded that bed. He has spent more time out there more this years than in years past and has harvested cauliflower, lettuce, radishes and now Swiss Chard. Which this is the first time we have tried growing Swiss Chard. It is doing great out there and looks gorgeous. My daughter was the one that wanted it to be rainbow chard and that was a great choice too.
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Friday nights dinner needed to include Swiss Chard only because I am not sure how long it will last sitting in the fridge. And it really is pretty cool to pick, cook and eat what you have planted, nurtured and harvested.
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When I told my daughter what we were having she immediately said “yum” some of our favorite things, pasta, sausage, cheese. Pretty fail safe that dinner will taste like it was made with love. And it was!

Pasta Swiss Chard and Sausage
Serves 6
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 12 ounce box of pasta - small shells, rigatoni. cavatappi
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 3 links sweet Italian sausage, casing removed, crumbled
  4. 4 tablespoon butter
  5. 5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  6. 1 bunch of Swiss chard, remove stems and roughly chop leaves
  7. 2 tablespoons flour
  8. 1 3/4 cup milk
  9. 1/2 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano grated
  10. 1 lemon - zested
  11. kosher salt
  12. freshly cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Pasta; make pasta as directed on the box. save 1 cup up the pasta water
  2. in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat add the olive oil and the sausage. breaking up while cooking. transfer sausage to a plate and set aside.
  3. remove most of the fat from the pot and add the butter, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds to a minute being careful not to burn.
  4. Add the Swiss chard and saute until it wilts 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook for another minute or so. lower the heat to a simmer
  5. Add the milk and bring to a boil. cook for a minute then add the sausage, parmesean, lemon zest and add a little salt and black pepper.
  6. stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.
  7. Add the pasta to the pot and toss. Add pasta water as needed.
Adapted from Food Network
Adapted from Food Network
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

Sirloin Tip Steak Bearnaise Butter

First day of summer means end of school for some, allergies for most, and BBQ season has officially begun. That doesn’t mean we haven’t fired up the grill several times already. When I plan on grilling out, I try to make sure that if it can be grilled it will be grilled.

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I usually complain how the asparagus in my garden is not producing, it is still not where I think it should be; more like where I want it to be. But I was pleasantly pleased with how many cuttings I was able to harvest. 

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I don’t usually make compound butters and I am not sure why I don’t; they taste delicious and they are very easy to make.

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This is a great weeknight dinner if you need it to be or a date night meal with a nice glass of wine. 

2 large sprigs fresh tarragon
4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbs minced shallot
1 Tbs dry white wine
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs water
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 ½ lb. beef flap meat – aka sirloin tip – cut so they are uniform sized pieces
1 bunch of asparagus – trimmed
T Tbs olive oil

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Bearnaise Butter

Strip the tarragon leaves from the stems, finely chop the leaves; about 2 tsp. And set aside.

In a skillet over medium-low heat melt 1 Tbs butter along with the shallots and the tarragon stems. Cook for a couple of minutes till the shallots are translucent. Add the wine, vinegar and 1 Tbs of water. Increase the heat to medium, and cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, remove and discard the stems and let cool complete.

Once cooled add the last 3 Tbs butter, the chopped tarragon, ¼ tsp kosher salt, and ⅛ tsp pepper. Mix with a fork until well combined. Set aside until ready to use.

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Steak and Asparagus
Heat your grill to high about 400’F – 475’F

Using a sheet pan place some plastic wrap down; use one end for the beef and the other for the asparagus. Coat both with olive oil and season generously with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

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Grill the meat turning every 2 minutes. Around 6-8 minutes, you are looking for medium rare 140’F for best flavors.

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Remove plastic wrap place beef on sheet pan cover loosely with foil, while it is resting, cook asparagus turning once till slightly charred 2-3 minutes.

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Thinly slice the meat against the grain, arrange on plates or a platter with the asparagus, top both with dollops of the butter.

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Mangia Mangia!!!

 

 

leftover takeout white rice

If you have ever ordered takeout from a Chinese, Japanese or Thai restaurant you probably ended up with a container or two or even three of white rice. I mean who is not going to eat the fried rice first over the plain, sticky and starchy white rice am I right?
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If you are anything like me you can’t just throw it away. So you put it in the fridge with the rest of the leftovers since you ordered way more than you could ever eat in one sitting and wait for someone to eat it. Until it stays in there a week, or more and you end up throwing it away on fridge clean out day. I too am guilty of this!
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I started out thinking I was going to make fried rice, but with the ingredients I wanted to add to my dish we ended up with a stir fry. You might think they are similar and they basically are. Both using leftover rice, both cooked on high heat with a little oil. You cook them both in a wok but you don’t have to if you don’t have one. Both have some veggies and a protein plus a little soy sauce or oyster sauce; maybe some hoisin sauce top with a few sliced scallion and you’ve got a meal.
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Here is what I threw in my stir fry – you make yours with what you like and what you have on hand.

2 containers leftover white rice
2 chicken breast
2 carrots – match stick
1 medium onion
1 can water chestnuts
1 can baby corn chopped
1/2 bell pepper
handful pea pod
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 teaspoon ginger – grated
kosher salt and black pepper

Prep by slicing and dicing all of your ingredients.
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heat your pan with a little oil and add the chicken or whatever protein you are using if it is not already cooked. Remove from heat, add the onion, carrots, pepper stirring constantly around the pan until lightly cooked, add the garlic stirring for another minute or two. Add the remaining already cooked veggies along with rice and chicken. Add the soy sauce and the hoisin. It only takes a minute or two for everything to come together.
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Serve topped with sliced scallions.
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Date Night Dine In

In my opinion the key to a successful marriage is communication. Why we have made it 30 years is beyond me. We are not great a communicating but apparently it is working for us. Do I think things could have been easier had we been better at it, definitely.
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It seems we always have some sort of plans either out or at home. Yesterday was no exception he worked, I went shopping; stop laughing SF. Had we discussed during our morning coffee/tea what our plans were we might have eaten dinner before 9pm. My plan was to hang out 2 loads of laundry, go shopping come home and put everything I bought away and then wash a couple of cars; after all that then I wanted to make this date night dinner for the two of us. His plan was to disrupt my plans.
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Mid washing he made a cheese, cracker, salami board and invited his parents over for wine and snack on the porch. Oh and then he got a call and had to leave because one of his tenants needed their AC unit put in. Parents show up, he leaves and I continue to wash cars, it ended up being 5 vehicles but hey who is counting. Parents leave around 8 when the wine and board were empty. Took me a little less than an hour to throw this meal together but I was great and I would totally do it again or something that resembles it.
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I had most everything on hand, steak tips, half a bag of shrimp and cocktail sauce were all in the freezer. I literally only picked up the lettuce and the small potatoes. Oh and the fresh bread that we ate some before hand; but it made it into the pictures.

Ingredients
Steak Tips
Shrimp
Baby potatoes
Iceberg lettuce
Bleu cheese dressing
Feta crumbles
Bacon
Cocktail sauce
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Directions
Shrimp
Make the shrimp first so it has time to cool. I used to boil them but find that baking them add a little more love to them. a little olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for about 8 minutes till cooked through. Set aside to cool.
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Baby Potatoes
slice in half, a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350’F
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Steak Tips
a little salt and pepper and a swirl of olive oil in your heated pan is all you need.
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Wedge Salad
I cooked my bacon in the microwave between some paper towels. 4 pieces for 6 minutes.
Slice the head of iceberg lettuce in half and then half again.
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If you use 2 boards or platters, you can keep the warm stuff away from the cold and it looks nice.

 

 

Meatloaf – low sodium low fat

My mother might be shocked to read this blog – nothing bad trust me just me making and sharing a meatloaf recipe someone might have to pick her up off the floor! I am sure everyone has a childhood food trauma – OK trauma might be a little harsh but I am still not a meatloaf fan by any stretch. My poor husband sometimes orders it out since I pretty much never ever make it.
IMG_4063My mother might fall over again when she reads that I not only made a meatloaf but I used ground turkey WHO AM I? When I was a punk teenager my mother tried to pull off ground turkey as ground beef – who did she think she was kidding – my teenage self was not falling for it one bit. My adult self is far more evolved I usually have a package or two in the freezer.
IMG_4065.JPGYou might be wondering why I would even attempt making this meatloaf; but my Dad should be eating a lot more healthier than he has his entire life so I guess I am going to try to convert him on a few things I know he likes. I feel that if I can make him a couple staples that are lower in sodium and with healthier choice of protein maybe he’ll try a little harder.
IMG_4066.JPGI found this recipe from Genius Kitchen and changed it from ground beef to ground turkey. Yes I did try a bite of it, but I also put a chunk out on the table for the fam, immediate and extended, and they all liked it a lot so I think it is a winner.
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Low-Sodium Low-Fat Meatloaf
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. Meatloaf
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. ½ cup onion, chopped fine
  4. ⅓ cup celery, chopped fine
  5. ⅓ cup carrot, chopped fine
  6. 2 pounds ground turkey
  7. 1 cup rolled oats
  8. 1 egg
  9. 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  10. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  11. ½ cup milk
  12. 2 teaspoons Mrs Dash seasoning mix
  13. ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  14. Sauce
  15. 8 ounces no salt tomato sauce
  16. ¼ cup brown sugar
  17. 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  18. 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic in the olive oil just till tender, let them cool a bit.
  3. In a large bowl mix all the meatloaf ingredients together using your hands.
  4. Shape into a loaf and place in a baking dish.
  5. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the meatloaf ingredients.
  6. Bake for 1 hour.
Adapted from Genius Kitchen
Adapted from Genius Kitchen
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

Maple Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

It will be 6 years this June since I started writing this weekly food blog and I do not see myself stopping anytime soon. I hope you are all OK with that; well I guess if you are reading this; you are on board with me continuing.
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With that being said I have upgraded my subscription on WordPress (more $) and am getting some help with how to make it a little more professional; and I hope easier for you to save and hopefully print out your favorite recipes. At least that is my goal. I just finished day 2 on how to build a better business blog so we’ll see where this takes me/us.
IMG_4029I have mentioned before that I am not very good at “self promoting” but yesterday I went to The Flying Butcher to pick up more pork chops and am making them tonight for my niece and her husband. I mentioned to the guy that helped me that I write a food blog and mentioned them in one of my posts because the pork chops we SO good. He said I should tag them and they will share it on their site. Look at me go! The name of the pork chops are Hatfield I need to ask them next time what Hatfield refers to. Name of the farm? Name of the pig? Company they get them from?
IMG_4037.JPGThe recipe I am going to share here today is what I am making for them later today. Not only because it is delicious but also because they collect and boil sap to make maple syrup and who doesn’t love having recipes that go along with what you worked so hard for.
IMG_4033.JPGThis recipe is even easier than the pork and apple recipe from a couple of weeks ago. Plus it’s fresh maple syrup season right now so let’s get cooking!
IMG_4030Pork Chop
4 pork chops – bone in or thick cut
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Balsamic Glaze
½ cup maple syrup
4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons beef broth
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic – smashed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small saucepan add all the glaze ingredients together and bring to a boil. You’ll want to boil it down for about 4 minutes.
IMG_4031Using a cast iron pan; if you have one. Either pre-heat it in your 350’F oven while you prepare the glaze, or place it on the stove top and put it on low to heat it up nicely.
IMG_4034.JPGPat the chops dry using paper towels. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add a little olive oil. Once your pan is almost to the smoking point. Add the chops and let them sizzle for 2-3 minutes. Flip and add some of the glaze to the browned side. After another 2-3 minutes flip again and add more glaze. You can keep flipping and adding glaze or finish them off in the 350’ F oven till they have an internal temperature of 140’F.
IMG_4035.JPGRemove them from the pan adding more glaze and let them rest for about 5-10 minutes.

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