Easy no-fry Eggplant Parm & Garden Salsa

OK so you are probably wondering when she is going to stop writing about her damn garden; but this year was a super year and I need to use up or give away what I pick; plus the season is winding down. It is Labor day weekend, there are school buses everywhere and we are supposedly not supposed to wear white anymore – pfff I wear what I want!
IMG_3103.JPGSo this week was another one of those busy weeks but I had a plan to use up what I have for tomatoes and peppers. I came home from work on Wednesday and started chopping. Halfway through we lost power so I finished chopping by candlelight. I made a pretty large bowl of salsa with my tomatoes, green peppers, onions and jalapenos. It was pretty cool since I haven’t been able to make it in a couple of years; it was a terrible year for green peppers last year and the year before I didn’t get any tomatoes. Yeah I know I could have gone out and bought some of what I needed  but that just doesn’t appeal to me for making “homemade salsa” I have issues I know!
IMG_3094Tonight (Thursday) I wanted to use up all the eggplant that was in the fridge. This is only the second year of growing eggplant and who knew there were SO many kinds out there. I had only seen the large oblong ones from the store but mine are long and thin. Which is great for slicing up and adding them into things. I know I have shared this recipe before but it is worth repeating since it comes together fast and tastes excellent with probably the fewest iIMG_3095
I add Sweet Italian sausage basically because I love it, and I think it brings a lot to the dish and my husband won’t ask why there is no meat. I very rarely keep the sausage link as a full link. For this recipe I sliced a couple of the links into coins or minim meatballs. I do this for spaghetti sauce sometimes; or I’ll remove the casing and smash the sausage up and brown it. Either way I am all in.
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I deglazed the pan with a little leftover red wine – totally optional

 

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I put this a baggie for another use – fridge or freeze it for another day!


Mock Eggplant Parmesan

1 large or several small Eggplant(s) diced
Marinara sauce – your favorite jar
1 small Onion diced
1 package Mozzarella
2 links Sausage (optional)

Saute the onions until they sweat, add the sausage if you are using it. Cook the sausage till it is done. Add the marinara sauce, stir and then add the mozzarella. Cover and let it simmer for about 30 – 40 minutes.

Serve with a side salad and some bread

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I posted this recipe way back in 2013 wow I have been doing this a long time!


Homemade Garden Salsa

6 tomatoes (roma)- seeded diced
1 Green bell pepper – seeded diced
1 Onion – diced
2 Jalapeno peppers – seeded chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic – pressed
1 Lime, squeezed
Fresh cilantro – chopped
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
dash Balsamic vinegar
1-2 packets of sweet and low

Dice and seed the tomatoes and set aside to drain while you dice the peppers and onions, press the garlic, and chop the cilantro. Mix everything together add a dash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and a packet or two of sweet and low.

Hint 1: you can make it hotter by leaving the pith and seeds in the jalapenos or milder by removing them before chopping.

Hint 2: By seeding the tomatoes your salsa will be less watery

Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese

Harvest season is upon us and I WISH I had a time elapsed camera set up near my squash because for the life of me I cannot figure out how on Monday they are almost but just not the right size and come Tuesday and they are like DAMN what the heck!

1st harvest 2018

1 cup measuring cup for scale


IMG_2964This morning (Saturday) I was sitting at the island enjoying my tea planning my day, making my grocery shopping list and trying to figure out what we might we eating this week. I figured I would head out to the garden and see what needed to be pulled.  I have already gotten way more radishes that any one human could eat luckily they are my Dad’s favorite and my daughter went into work (my favorite restaurant in town) tonight and asked if they might be interested in some; thankfully they said yes.
IMG_2954Veggie season gets me thinking of inventive ways to serve them. Right now it is only the squash and radishes but I see a head of Broccoli forming an the tomatoes are a few sunny days away. I tried a new recipe today using my slow cooker, which actually is not just a winter tool in my world. It doesn’t heat up the house and we get a nice meal with not a lot of effort.
IMG_2956I am going to call it a mock bolognese only because it doesn’t have any meat in it. Though I fried up some sweet italian sausage to serve along side it for us. You could make this totally vegetarian if you so wish to.
IMG_2958Crockpot cauliflower bolognese

Head of cauliflower cut into flowerettes
28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1 medium diced onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1-2 cup chicken broth – or veggie broth
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
IMG_2962Put everything in the crockpot, stir and place on high for 3 ½ hours.  Once everything is cooked down take a potato masher and break up the cauliflower taste for salt and pepper. Leave it a little chunky and ladle over zoodles or spaghetti.
IMG_2971I had planned on making zoodles since I have so many in the house not but I was running late and my husband worked on a roof all day so he needed the pasta, some bread and even a cocktail.

Enjoy!

Fresh Corn Tomato Bacon Salad

What to do with the leftover corn on the cob? Not sure if your local grocery store requires you to buy a 6 – 12 ears of corn; well require might be a “strong” word it’s more like encourage you to buy more ears than you need. You can buy 6 for say $2.99 or you can buy it for a buck an ear. So being my true New England Yankee self I buy my 1/2 dozen and the 3 of us eat an ear a piece. My husband always make a comment “why did you buy so many” I think he should start doing the shopping – Just saying!
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There are actually many things you can do with the leftover ears. Once removed from the cob. Here are a few that I like. Corn Chowder is classic, add kernels to your corn bread/muffins or even your pancakes. Make a Mexican corn by frying up some onions and garlic along with the kernels and add a few spices like paprika, cumin, chili powder and squeeze in a half of a lime and top with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. Corn salsa is also a good summer time use but one of my favorites is fresh corn tomato bacon salad. I mean honestly add bacon to just about anything and I would probably call it my favorite.

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Serves 4–6

6 slices of thick-cut bacon
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
cut kernels from 4 ears of corn (about 2 cups)
3 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon to a plate and set aside.

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using a little of the bacon grease

Turn heat down to medium-low and add onions to the bacon drippings in the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened – about 5 minutes.
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Add corn, turn heat back up to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender and just starting to brown in spots about 7–10 minutes.
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Remove corn and onion mixture to a large mixing bowl and let cool for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, crumble bacon.  Add the sliced tomatoes, bacon, basil, and vinegar to the bowl with the corn.  Sprinkle in a big pinch of salt and some fresh ground black pepper. Toss everything together add more salt and/or pepper if needed.

I posted this back in 2015 but just finished making this just this morning for the pictures!

had to share some more photos aka food porn!
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Basil from my herb gardens

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playing with the little sun coming through my kitchen window

BBQ Steak, Sweet Potato & Squash

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My family has re-discovered the outside patio area. We; well actually I wanted a sitting area on the patio. Not just any sitting area I wanted someplace where we can; after a long hard day of working we could sit and relax comfortably. I finally pulled the trigger on an outdoor couch and we LOVE it!  We make plans of when we could meet, what we are going to drink and who has to get up and make dinner.

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Looks pretty comfortable huh? 

With the nights already getting shorter meals have to be something quick to throw together just so no one has to be away from lounging on the patio for too long. What fun would it be if I spent an hour in the kitchen while they are out there chilling out. No fun at all.

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As long as the raw meat doesn’t touch the tray; you can use it to take everything off the grill

Here is something so surprisingly delicious but so crazy easy that anyone can make this meal and you won’t hear any complaints from the loungers

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I use a little tinfoil so I don’t lose the veggies

Steak – you cannot go wrong with Ribeyes
Squash – whichever kind you like or both
Sweet potato or whatever you have on hand
Large Onion peeled and sliced
Olive Oil
Black Pepper
Kosher Salt

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You still get grill marks even while using tinfoil

That’s it!  Take the steaks out before you start anything else, they are best when the come to room temperature; season liberally with Salt and Pepper and put aside.
Start the grill, Slice the veggies and potatoes. Season those with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Grab a sheet pan or whatever you use when you grill and head outside. I have a little plastic basket I put all the supplies I need like the plates, utensils and tinfoil etc. And I usually only have to come back in for a refill of my wine.

Have a wonderful long labor day weekend!

 

Garden Salad

Good morning and Happy Mother’s day!

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Looking forward to seeing this again this year!

My Mother’s day plans were to be spent in the garden but apparently Mother Nature had other plans. Unfortunately we are not supposed to see the sun until Tuesday; insert sad face here.

The gardens were on the agenda since the kids asked what I wanted to do today and I figured why not tick off something from my “to do” list. And the gardens need a lot of love to get ready for planting in a couple of weeks; and manual labor is a precious gift; to me anyway.  Many OK maybe 10ish years ago this was the weekend when I would go buy all my flowers for the porch and veggies for the garden but after losing more plants and money than I care to share I now wait until Memorial Day and then I go out and buy and plant everything I want. That seems to be the safest in this neck of the woods.

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Although yesterday; while it was still pretty nice out my husband got all the beds ready for planting and throwing caution to the wind he ended up planting a few things like potatoes, onions, leeks, carrots, beets and shallots. I think we should be OK since they are in the soil versus a delicate plant above ground; though we will be watching the weather very closely.  I did see that 3 or 4 towns over awoke this morning to snow and power outages instead of rain YIKES!

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In anticipation of the yummy veggies coming out of our and possibly your hard work and dirty hands I want to re-share a quick and easy summer salad  that everyone loved.

 

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Best if you can make this first before you start whatever you are serving it with so it has time to meld and let the veggies soak up the dressing.

Summer Garden Salad

⅓ cup cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 small clove of garlic, minced
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup sliced cherry, grape or like tomatoes
½ medium cucumber, halved, seeded and sliced thin
½ medium yellow summer squash, quartered and sliced ¼ inch thick
¼ medium sweet onion sliced thin
Kernels from 1 ear of corn
1 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh basil

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the next diced/sliced 5 ingredients; stir well to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Stirring occasionally before serving. Garnish with the basil.

 

Fried Brussel Sprouts & Piperade sauce

I wanted to give you all an update on my quest to like brussel sprouts! OK so that might not be the most exciting statement of the year, week or even day but I did come across another way that my husband will eat them.  My daughter and I actually do like them and would probably add them to my grocery shopping list a little more often if the faces and comments I get from my husband were a little less ummmm painful to see/hear.
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The other day my husband was at the grocery store with me; I’m not a fan of him going to the store with me; don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t end up spending me more money than I was thinking of spending. He’s like a little kid ooohh that looks yummy; and puts it in the cart. So I was grabbing the things that were on my list and yes there were brussel sprouts on it; he made a comment and a face and said several times that we really didn’t need them; such a child!
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My daughter had tried some fried brussel sprouts with a some red pepper sauce that she absolutely loved. Trying to recreate something we’ve had at a restaurant is kind of our thing. Sometimes it works and sometimes not so much. After making the sauce my first comment was; “where has this been all my life?” We all know the true test would be my husband. All I can say is my daughter and I both witnessed him finishing his plate AND reaching into the sprout bowl and grabbing a large one with his fingers and eating it.  YUP I win!!!!
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Piperade Sauce – definition below

Ingredients
3 plum tomatoes or use whatever you have on hand
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 red or green bell peppers (we used red because that is how Abbi had it)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon hot Paprika or Espelette

Brussel Sprouts
Oil for frying
Balsamic vinegar
salt

Directions
using a 12 inch skillet over medium high heat, add the oil until hot but before it starts to smoke. add onions, peppers and the salt. saute, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent and pepper start to lighten in spots; about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for another minute or so.
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Add the tomatoes and the paprika, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook till the tomatoes are starting to breakdown and the peppers are soft; about 15  minutes.
removing the cover and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, you want to let it thicken a bit. It should be the consistency of a slightly runny relish.  Adjust the salt and enjoy!
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Brussel Sprouts
prepare your sprouts by trimming off the outer, dry leaves, cut the bottom off and slice lengthwise. Fry them in batches in about and inch or so of oil. Drain, salt and place them in a bowl with the piperade sauce, drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar, stir and serve.
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Not my favorite picture to share but it tasted delicious!

wikipedia definition of Piperade
Piperade
(Gascon and French) or Piperrada (Basque and Spanish), from piper (pepper in Gascon and in Basque) is a typical Basque dish prepared with onion, green peppers, and tomatoes sautéd and flavoured with red Espelette pepper.

 

 

Thyme and Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

I saw someone roasting a whole head of cauliflower on TV that looked SO good I wanted to try it. The other day I had a head of cauliflower in the fridge so I started looking for some ways to have this for dinner alongside a couple of Ribeye steaks I was making. Well lets just say baking a whole head of cauliflower takes far too long for my weeknight meal; especially since I was starting around 6:30ish. Unless I boiled it first it was going to be well over an hour in the oven. Since I had roasted cauliflower on brain I sliced it into large chunks added some sliced onion and a little garlic and some thyme roasted them in the oven for about 40 minutes.

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It also worked out quite nicely that the oven was well pre-heated for finishing off my steaks in the oven once seared in my cast iron skillet. Dinner was awesome and we had the leftovers for lunch the next day score!!!

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If you have never roasted a vegetable; I can’t stress enough how it will change your life; OK no it’s not that revolutionary but it may make some youngsters; even some adults change their minds over eating their veggies. It makes carrots, beets, butternut squash and onions sweeter. It gives asparagus and broccoli a slightly charred taste. Potatoes have a wonderful crunch and it’s the only way I like brussel sprouts. A little olive oil, salt and pepper and you’re good to go; add an herb and you won’t be disappointed.
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1 head of cauliflower cut into florets
1 medium onion sliced
1 tsp dried thyme or 4 fresh sprigs
3-4 gloves of garlic kept whole
2-3 Tbs olive oil
Kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Toss the first four ingredients either on the sheet pan or if you prefer in a bowl. once on the sheet pan sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30-40 minutes. sprinkle with cheese toss and roast for another 10-15 minutes longer.