Dinner tonight is fresh from the garden. Tomato herb tart topped with fresh goat cheese, and a bowl of mixed greens.
The tart is made with a herb crust that was blind baked for 20 minutes so it stayed crispy. After letting the crust rest for 10 minutes I topped it with chopped mixed herbs, sliced tomatoes, fresh goat milk feta, basil salt, pepper, and finished the layers with a drizzle of olive oil. Then baked the tart at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. The resulting tart had a flaky crisp crust and juicy topping.
With the very warm wet summer this year we have a bumper crop of green beans, tomatoes and eggplant. This morning I used 12 pounds of our tomatoes and 4 pounds of eggplant to make some lovely jars of aubergine pasta sauce.
The recipe I use is as follows. Please keep in mind that the canning method is the one that I use in my house. Please follow the canning method and times that are appropriate for your household.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion , chopped
6 garlic cloves , chopped
1 large bell pepper , chopped
2 lbs eggplants, cubed
8 cups tomatoes , peeled & cubed
1/4 cup tomato powder or 1-6 ounce can of tomato paste
4 tablespoons fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dry oregano
1/3 cup date sugar (can substitute brown sugar)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup dry red wine
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add onion and garlic; cook until the onion is soft.
Add tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper, tomato paste, basil, oregano, hot pepper flakes, sugar, salt, pepper, and wine; stir.
Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Blend mixture with an emersion blender.
Put into hot jars and add prepared lids and rings. Screw rings on until finger tight.
Process in hot water bath for 40 minutes.
No matter how much canning I do, the reduction in volume when fresh produce is processed always amazes me.
The hard never ending rains this summer required that we use everything that we are able to harvest this year. This morning I picked carrots, green beans, egg plant, tomatoes and cabbage. The cabbage is now sliced seasoned and in the crock to ferment. Carrots, egg plant and green beans will be prepped for the dehydrator – I really prefer dehydrated veggies in winter soups and stews.
This morning carrot greens were turned into pesto – several batches for the freezer and one put aside for a pasta dish on Sunday.
Between other cooking and canning projects I restocked the pantry with some speciality crackers. These cranberry hazelnut rainforest crackers are full of protein and fiber and have some rich flavor in every bite. I like to make these crackers when I have to be in the kitchen because they take two days to complete from start to finish. Not that they are difficult to make, but there is a fair amount of wait time between the mixing of the batter and the actual production of the cracker.
Generally a batter is made, poured into mini bread pans then baked. The cool beard is then placed in the refrigerator over night so that it easer to slice. The next day the bread is sliced very thinly and placed on dehydrator trays. The slices are then dehydrated on the jerky settinguntil Crisp (in my dehydrator this takes about 4 hours).
These crispy, slightly sweet treats are wonderful served with almost any type of soft cheese. The recipe that I use can be found on the Wives with Knives blog. This recipe will makes a little over six dozen crackers.
One of the things that I like to to do is package the finished crackers into appetizer size packages and store them in the pantry so they can be brought out when unexpected guest arrive or for that special family meal. If you would rather have small batches of crackers on hand, then just freeze the baked breads and defrost and prepare the crackers on an as needed basis.
If you try the recipe noted above I strongly suggest that you use a dehydrator instead of the oven to dry the crisps. This will reduce the time needed to watch an oven, address any uneven thickness in the slices, and do away with any possibly of the sugars in the crisps burning.
My wonderful honey volunteered me to make a desert for the monthly community choir board meeting. So I made one of my standby deserts that is always receive well, fruity oatmeal cookie bars. Not only is this desert quick and easy to make but it uses few ingredients and allows me to use up some of the jam I can each year.
Today I used a cherry pie jam I made and canned last year as the center in the bars. Please excuse the plastic Christmas tray in the first picture. Over the years I have learned to only send food items on trays I don’t mind loosing, since the love of my life often forgets to bring them home from events.
The recipe I use is:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (omit if you are using salted butter)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 small container of homemade jam or 3/4 cup of store bought jam
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease an 8 inch pan and line it with parchment paper
Combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and rolled oats. Rub in butter with your hands to form a crumbly mixture
Press 2 cups of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan
Spread the jam to within /4 inch of the edge
Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top, and lightly press it into the jam
Bake 35 to 40 minutes in preheated oven until lightly brown
This morning I needed to stay in the kitchen while the pressure cooker processed our first batch of green beans for the season, so I baked a gluten-free double chocolate banana bread. The bread is easy to make and allowed me to use some of the almond pulp in my freezer from making almond milk and a couple of overripe bananas. An added bonus to this recipe is that it is only about 155 calories per slice and contains very little fat.
Point your browser to http://thetoastedpinenut.com/double-chocolate-banana-bread/ If you are interested in trying the recipe.
The herbs gardens are starting to produce well, so I started making herbal salts today. The salts tasty and very easy to make. Today basil salt was on the agenda — it is wonderful on sliced tomatoes.
To make the salts add a large bunch of your favorite herb to a food processor and add an equal amount of sea salt to the herbs. Pulse the mixture until the herbs are finally chopped and well incorporated with the salt. Spread the mixture out thinly on dehydrator sheets and process on herb setting until dry. Run the the dried salt through the food processor again to break up and store in an air tight container.
Twice a month I take a Friday morning to make bread for my household. This Friday i took advantage of some early spring herbs and made a tabbouleh bread. The bread has a great sent, flavor and makes great sandwiches that are piled high with fresh feta or Farmer’s cheese and vegetables.
2 cup water
1/2 cup bulgar
3 T olive oil
1 T yeast
1 cup warm water (additional)
2 tsp salt
1 bunch flat leaf parsley chopped
6 green onions sliced thinly
Zest 1 lemon
5-6 cloves garlic chopped
6 cups flour (may use white or a white/whole wheat mix)
Cook the bulgar in 2 cups of water and the olive oil. Turn pan off when it comes to a boil and cool until lukewarm.
Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water.
Mix parsley, green onions, lemon zest, chopped garlic, salt, egg, flour, bulgar mixture, and yeast mixture well.
Allow dough to rest for fifteen minutes. Add more flour if needed to make a soft dough.The dough should be soft and slightly tacky, but not sticky.
Knead dough for 5 to 10 minutes by hand or by machine, until a smooth ball. Place dough in a greased bowl and allow to rise for one hour or until double. Punch dough down. Rest for 10 minutes. Shape into two loaves and place into greased pans. Let rise for 45 minutes or until double. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
Bread is great served with a olive oil and lemon dipping sauce or used on a sandwich of herbed feta cheese, sliced tomatoes and sliced cucumbers.
I just love having a large batch of fresh, colorful vegetables to work with. Fortunately, peaches are in and the vegetable gardens are producing well, so this morning I made and canned a batch of peach salsa.
Fruit salsa is so popular in my house that this is the second batch that I have made in the last week (all will be gone by next spring). I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as we do.
9 cups fresh peaches, mangoes, or a combination of both, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp lemon or lime juice (fresh or bottled)
4 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 large sweet peppers, diced
2 cups onions, diced
2 Tbsp dried jalapeno flakes (or fresh hot peppers if you wish. Add more or less to your desired heat level)
1/4 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped
1 cup apple cider vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 T honey
2 T clear gel to thicken
Mix peaches with lime or lemon juice.
Combine all ingredients in large pot.
Bring to boil over medium heat and cook for five or six minutes.
Remove from heat.
Ladle into prepared canning jars.
Screw on lids and process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
It appears that the spring is going to be just as unpredictable as the 2015 winter. Last week it was in the 70s and we started yard work, took the plastic off the chicken’s winter run (they are a bit puffed up today since the wind break is down), and moved the veggie seedling trays to the sun porch. Today it was in the 30s with rain that changed to sleet and then to snow and back again.
With all of the lovely weather we were blessed with over the past few weeks I had planned to change to our spring menus and clean the wood stove for the season. The weather today and the what is now promised for the balance of the week actually had me to start the wood stove, and brush off a couple of winter favorites for dinners this week. Today I made a pot of vegan red beans and rice with a side of pumpkin cornbread. The red beans have a very rich flavor with just a hint of spiciness created with fresh vegetables, veggie stock, creole seasoning, and a nice bunch of kale.
If you like red beans and rice but would like to forego the animal fat in the traditional recipe than you may want to try the following.
1 cup of dried rice
1 cup dried red beans, picked over
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
1 medium carrot, chopped fine
1 large celery stalk, chopped fine
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped fine
5 cups vegetable stock
1 Tbsp creole seasoning
1 bunch of fresh kale, roughly chopped, or 1/2 cup of dehydrated kale
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak the beans overnight in a large bowl of water.
Rinse and drain the beans.
Add the beans, onion, carrot, celery, jalapeno, creole seasoning, and vegetable stock to a medium-sized crock pot, and cook for 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
Taste the broth and adjust seasoning as needed.
Cook rice according to package directions.
Add the kale to bean mixture and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
Serve the beans over 1/2 cup or so of rice with a side of cornbread.
The dogs got us up really early this morning so I decided to make some carrot cake scones to go with our morning tea. One of the things that I like about this recipe is that they use no processed sugar and are very low in fat while still being moist and packed with flavor.
The scones were a very nice Sunday morning treat. I hope that you will give the recipe a try.
for the scones
1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter or coconut oil, very cold and cubed
½ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
3 tbsp maple syrup or honey
2 tbsp + 2 tsp nonfat milk, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup freshly grated carrots
for the drizzle
1 tbsp Greek yogurt cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 ½ tsp nonfat milk
1 tsp maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 425°F, and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or the back of a fork until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
Stir in the Greek yogurt, maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of milk, and vanilla. Fold in the grated carrots.
Shape the dough into a ¾” tall circle on the prepared baking sheet, and brush with the remaining milk. Slice the circle into 8 triangular segments with a sharp knife.
Bake at 425°F for 17-20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the drizzle, stir together the Greek yogurt cream cheese, milk, and maple syrup in a small bowl. Transfer the mixture to a zip-topped bag, and cut off a tiny piece of one corner. Just before serving, drizzle on top of the scones.
Today was a big project and errand day so I needed to prepare a meal that was quick to prepare, tasty and filling. After spending the morning driving around to a number of stores this morning the last thing I wanted to do was run out and pick up ingredients for a meal so I worked with what was in the house. Acorn squash was pulled from the cold room, cranberries from the freezer and other items from the pantry. The various items allowed me to create a meal that was savory with a nice touch of sweet to finish the meal that only took about 20 minutes to prepare.
What I made was a baked acorn squash stuffed with walnuts, cranberries, orange juice and hint of brown sugar. We also had a savory couscous as a side. I have provided the receipts below so that you can enjoy the same meal at some time.
Stuffed acorn squash
2 acorn squash
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 375º F.
Cut each squash in half (make halves as even as possible) and scrape out seeds.
Place squash cut side up in a large baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine walnuts, cranberries, brown sugar, orange juice and a drizzle of honey, and toss together. Make sure everything is evenly coated.
Divide mixture into 4 parts and stuff into hollow center of squash.
Top each half with 1/2 tablespoon butter.
Cover baking dish loosely with aluminum foil and transfer to oven.
Bake for 60-90 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.
Remove from oven and serve immediately.
2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup couscous
2 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
Heat oil in a medium saucepan
Add chopped onions and cook until soft
Stir in crushed garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes
Stir in vegetable broth and bring to a boil
Remove saucepan from heat and cover. Allow to stand for 5 minutes
Frosty evenings have started for the season so we had some major yard and coop cleanup to do yesterday. The long day in the yard left little time for dinner preparation and after a fair amount of physical labor we really wanted something hot and filling for dinner. Fortunately the early morning hours were a bit cold to head outside so I made a couple of loaves of Hawaiian bread that was paired with a Swiss chard and cannelloni bean soup for dinner. The semi-sweet bread paired very well with the satisfying savory soup that took less than 30 minutes to prepare.
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1 onion, diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
1 cup uncooked orzo ( I use Delallo organic orzo)
1 bunch of Swiss chard, cut into thin ribbons. Separate and save chopped stems ( can also use bunch of kale or 3 cups of chopped spinach)
1 (15 ounce) can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
Juice of a fresh lemon
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add garlic, onions and chopped Swiss chard stems, and cook until onions become translucent.
Stir thyme and basil into onion mixture and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
Stir vegetable stock, bay leaves and 1 cup of water into pot mixture. Bring mixture to a boil.
Add orzo to the pot and reduce the heat so that the mixture simmers. Cook until the orzo is tender (10-12 minutes).
Add cannelloni beans, Swiss chard and lemon juice to the pot and simmer for another 3-4 minutes
Turn off heat and stir in chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Serve with a nice bread.