Tag Archives: Tomato

Garden Salsa

This week was not spent in the kitchen and most of my garden tomatoes are still not ripening. I literally had to google what the heck is wrong with them. Apparently my original thought was completely wrong. I thought my plants were so large and the roots and earth were not getting enough heat. I did not know that some varieties will not turn red on the vine if the temperature is above 85’F.  I had no idea I thought the heat is what they needed most. IMG_4209.JPG
There are a few other factors such as they are spending too much time growing larger plants, leaves and flowers than ripening their fruit. That makes sense to me. We did end up cutting them back a bit; being careful not to lose any of the tomatoes so maybe in a week or so they’ll reward us?  Thank you google!
IMG_4216.JPGMy grandfather had a huge garden in the backyard; I can see him sitting in his chair drinking a Miller beer just watching over it for hours. I wonder when plants were not doing what they were supposed to be doing who did he ask?

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Seed them so your salsa doesn’t get too wet

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chop them as uniform as you can

We have been picking a few cherry tomatoes and some roma tomatoes. So I spent yesterday morning on making some salsa with my onions, tomatoes and jalapeno. My green peppers were too small to pick just yet and I had other garlic I needed to use up before I dig into mine.

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keep the tomato and green pepper roughly the same size –  everything else smaller

Garden Salsa
quick and easy garden salsa, everyone will love
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Ingredients
  1. roma tomatoes; seeded and chopped
  2. green peppers; seeded and chopped
  3. yellow onion; peeled and diced
  4. jalapeno; seeded and diced
  5. garlic cloves; chopped fine
  6. kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  7. balsamic vinegar - a dash or two
  8. 1-2 packets of sweet and low
Instructions
  1. the amounts you use for each ingredient is totally up to you. I will give you an approximate ratio so it will be well balanced.
  2. 12 roma tomatoes, 2 green peppers, 4 jalapeno, 6 garlic and 2 onions seemed to make a nice amount of salsa and the ratio seemed to work out nicely
  3. adjust for how you like your salsa. want it hotter add more jalapeno or leave the seeds and veins in them.
  4. add the sweet and low and a few dashes of the balsamic vinegar
  5. finish it off with a little salt and pepper to taste
Notes
  1. the sweet and low may sound a little odd but even that little amount brings a brightness to the salsa. I would suggest trying it without it and then add it and you will see.
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

Bacon Garden Pasta

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I wasn’t sure what to call this dish so I figured I would get more attention if it started with bacon. Because everyone knows everything tastes better with some bacon on or in it. This dinner comes together pretty easy and quite quickly so it would be perfect for a weeknight meal.
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If you don’t want to start up the grill just to char the corn you can totally skip that part and do it right on the stove top like I did. It was super hot and humid out the night I made this and had no interest in sitting outside to do anything let alone stand at the grill. I do have a grill cast iron pan so I got the same affect. By adding a little char on the corn it does bring another flavor to party so you do you and cook the corn how you see fit.

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I could just eat this – tomato and basil with salt and pepper

I do want to mention my garden; it is coming along a lot slower than I think it should be. The broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and swiss chard have so far been the biggest producers. My cucumbers are now the ones out of control and today might be spent making pickles. We’ll see how it goes. I would love to say I used my own cherry tomatoes in this dish but I would be lying. I thought we were not getting any of them till I found out my husband has been eating them before they got into the house hmmmm. So on Friday I got home before him and went out and harvested everything before he got home. NOW we have some cherry tomatoes in the house. I do fear that the other roma and beefsteak tomatoes will probably all ripen at once it seems to happen like that.
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Stove top multi-tasking charring corn, frying up bacon and heating water for the pasta

Bacon Garden Pasta
Serves 4
easy quick weeknight meal
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Total Time
35 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 medium corn on the cob, shucked
  2. 2-3 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  4. 8+ basil leaves
  5. 6-7 slices bacon, chunked
  6. 1 medium sweet onion, small diced
  7. package of rigatoni or ziti
  8. kosher salt
  9. freshly cracked black pepper
  10. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Instructions
  1. Char corn with a little olive oil over medium-high heat 7-10 minutes turning occasionally.
  2. Using a sharp knife, remove the kernals from the cobs
  3. cook pasta according to the packages direction
  4. In a small bowl add the tomatoes, torn basil leaves and a little salt and pepper
  5. In another pan saute the bacon until crispy, remove to a paper towel to drain
  6. In the same pan fry up the onions till tender, 4-5 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes, corn and the bacon to the pan along with some salt and pepper just till combined.
  8. drain the pasta once cooked add everything to your serving bowl and combine
  9. top with a few more basil leaves and some freshly grate Parmigianno cheese
  10. serve warm
Adapted from Fine Cooking
Adapted from Fine Cooking
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/
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Sausage, spinach, tomato tortellini soup

Soup is my jam period – I mentioned quite a while ago my dream of opening a soup joint or something along those lines. I also share quite a few soup recipes on this blog and I am pretty  sure I will continue to do so. Every time I make a soup that makes me smile, and no not all of them do, I have failed or made just meh soup before but my successes far outweigh my failures. When it is a fabulous one I say out loud to no one in particular “the world needs to have this” and since I don’t have a soup joint and I don’t know everyone in the world I will share another warm, tasty, comfort bowl full of goodness with you all.
img_3953.jpgMy husband even said this was his favorite soup that I have made, that’s saying something! It is definitely in my top 5 but I have made and shared some pretty incredible soups over the years.
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The one common denominator is homemade chicken stock. If you are still not making your own broth, we need to talk. It is SO easy to do using your slow cooker and a leftover chicken carcass. Put the chicken in the bowl add a couple of roughly chopped carrots, celery, onion and some garlic. Cover with water and place on low overnight. In the morning strain out the liquid gold and discard of all the veggies and bones. Taste it to see if you like it or if it needs a little salt. I let it sit all day or overnight in my fridge to let the fat solidify so I can remove it all. Freeze it or use it now!

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Start by using the best ingredients you can find and your soup will be delicious!
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Sausage, Spinach, Tomato, Tortellini soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounce sweet italian sausage, casings removed roughly 2 long links
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
6 cups chicken broth
1 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
10-12 ounce package of fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
5-6 ounces baby spinach
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the sausage and break it up a bit, add the onion and cook till the sausage is cooked through a little browned, about 10 minutes making sure to break up the large chunks. Add the garlic and the oregano cook for another minute.
IMG_3950Add the broth and the tomatoes. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the tortellini, lower the heat to a simmer. Cook till the tortellini is tender, according to the package directions about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach, and cook till it is just about wilted. Season with salt and pepper, grate some fresh parmigiano-reggiano cheese over it and serve.
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Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking magazine

Braised Eggplant – Greek Style

There were a couple of reasons I was drawn to this recipe. One is I had to use up some of my eggplant, tomatoes and green peppers from my garden, the other is it said it was “Greek style” and my husband and I will be visiting Greece in a few weeks. I figured we maybe we should try to get a glimpse of some of the flavors.
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I honestly had to look up what made this “Greek” as I wasn’t entirely sure. If you did know; bear with me for a few minutes. The spices widely used in Greek food are Oregano yeah that one surprised me too, Cinnamon I am a little nervous about this one as I have never been a fan of it in savory dishes; probably so used to it with sugar and butter I guess I miss the sweet aspect of the cinnamon. Parsley, Mint and black pepper. I am a fan of parsley and pepper; mint not so much. This will be an interesting culinary experience for us. My husband feels the same way about cinnamon and mint so at least we have that!
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I am thinking of writing my blog while I am there but since I won’t be cooking I would only be able to share what I am eating along with pictures instead of sharing a recipe.  If you wouldn’t mind I am game! 

IMG_3072Let’s discuss eggplant just a little. I just started eating it a few years ago and now I grow it in my garden. My first introduction to eggplant was when I worked at our local pizza barn. Lets just say it didn’t look or feel appealing to the teenage me.  I changed my mind when I made eggplant parmesan. The very next year I tried growing it. Oh how I have evolved wink wink!

Braised Eggplant – Greek Style
Directions – preheat oven to 400’F

1 large or a couple small Eggplant
Kosher salt
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
6 large cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes – I used my own tomatoes and added a small can of tomato sauce
2 15 ounce cans chickpeas – I didn’t have any so I used great northern beans  
Fresh parsley or mint for garnish

Dice the eggplant into cubes and place in a colander, sprinkle with some salt and let it sit and drain out some of the bitterness while you chop the rest of the veggies.
IMG_3070In a dutch oven add a little olive oil with the onion, pepper and carrots. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, cook another minute. Add the spices and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, eggplants and beans. Bring to a boil 8-10 minutes and then transfer to the oven for about 40-50 minutes.
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Keep an eye on the liquid so set a timer for 20 minutes to make sure it isn’t too dry. 
If it is add ½ cup of water – or a little of the red wine you are drinking.
IMG_3079.JPGServe alongside some warmed up pita bread if you have some on hand.


Adapted recipe  – the Mediterranean dish

App’s Class quote “My apron strings fell into the toilet”

Thursday night I had an appetizer class; I had 3 people sign up; I generally do 4 people and sometimes more.  I believe I couldn’t fill the class for a couple of reasons; I really only use Face Book to promote and word of mouth; and I am just not that great at self-promotion also I believe it has a lot to do with this time of the year; everyone is SO busy.  The reason I say that is I just returned from the grocery store and a former participant asked me when the appetizer class will be. She said she really wanted to go but had been away and busy and hadn’t checked when it was.  So I explained it already happened she asked if I would please do it again.

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Well she missed a good one; we had SO much fun; laughter was definitely part of the menu; someone came out of the bathroom and exclaimed “My apron strings fell into the toilet; I got them out before I peed on them; but you’re going to want to wash this apron”. I swear I can’t even make this shit up. Thankfully I do wash everything after a class. But we had a nice long laugh at that exclamation.

If you read my last post, I mentioned a very good friend of mine doing the worm; well she came to her first class this week; which is probably another reason why we laughed so much.  She is one of the funniest and most fun people I know.  Most are had to be there moments; so I can’t come up with one particular story as they are all just ongoing I swear.  She did pay me some very nice compliments that I want to share.  She was torn between telling everyone what fun we had or just keeping it to herself; just so she always had a spot; she didn’t want to come to a class and have it full and not get in.  Yeah like that would happen; she will always have a spot full or not.  She has also proclaimed to be my marketing director and has some great ideas for me.  Can’t wait to discuss; she is too damn cute!

Part of class is I send everyone home with whatever is left over.  She was planning on hosting Happy Hour Saturday night at her place; she ended up serving all the appetizers I sent her home with plus her yummy slow cooked wings off the grill.  I can tell you right now; if; I mean when she comes to her next class; you might want to sign up as well.  I can promise yummy food and a few short cuts and cooking tips; just how funny she is would be the worth the price of admission.

2 of everyone’s favorite- they actually voted– it was quite comical

Yummy Bacon Dip

1 8 ounce package Cream Cheese

3 Tablespoons horseradish (squeezed dry)

1 Medium seeded chopped tomato

6 Slices cooked bacon crumbled

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon until crispy, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and let them meld for about 30 minutes. This can be served at room temperature

Tomato & Whipped Feta Crostini

6 ounces crumbled feta

2 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)

2/3 cup olive oil – divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon

2 tablespoons minced shallots (approx.. 2)

2 teaspoons minced garlic (approx.. 2 cloves)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2-3 different type/color pints of cherry tomatoes (sliced in half or quartered)

3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving

2 tablespoons pine nuts

French baguette (sliced and baked till lightly browned)

Add feta and cream cheese in bowl of a food processor, pulse until they are mixed. Add 1/3 cup olive oil, the lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.

Combine shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl, set aside for 5 minutes.  Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and taste for seasoning.

To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of toast with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top.  Top with pine nuts and extra basil.