Sunday, June 30, 2013


We got a little baggie full of locally grown pistachios in our SLO Veg box. I intended to use them in some sort of dish, like a pistachio crusted mackerel or something of that sort. 
The nuts came from Bell Farms in Coalinga. Handily, there is a listing of growers on the SLO Veg website. It tells us that Bell Farms grows pesticide-free fruits and nuts. They were salted just right and every one of the shells was split open like they're supposed be. Perfect for eating. Recipe?
Alas! It was not to be as the pistachios just became our evening snack.

Apricot Jam on biscuits

You see this little gem? Do you know what is so special about it? Special enough to pay $5 at an Antique Store for it? Well, my mother had one of these. I don't know what happened to it. We probably tossed it into the thrift store pile when we were cleaning out the house. I was on overload back then and didn't want to keep any stuff. I am always trying to declutter and not become my mother, a constant battle in my life.

Anyway, a few months back I found one of these little biscuit cutters in a shop. I picked it up and carried it around in the store while I browsed all the isles, up and down, around and back (those places are arranged like the Winchester Mystery House). I wasn't sure if I want to pay $5 for it. But in the end, the emotional pull was to great and I relented. They had a sale!

This cutter is unique because the center "doughnut hole" piece comes out. You can make doughnuts or you can take it out and make biscuits, or cookies, or anything that you want to cut into a round shape. You could also just have it for a remembrance of your mother making doughnuts in the kitchen when you were growing up.  The round red wooden handle on the top has a built-in grip and fits perfectly in your grasp while you cut out circles in the dough. I had to have it, and I had to make homemade biscuits. This morning was the time, because I also have homemade apricot jam like my Mom used to make to spread on the biscuits.

I already blogged about making the jam with fruit I picked up from SLO Veg, so today I will tell you how I made the biscuits as a vessel for that delicious jam. Simple baking powder biscuits. Here is the recipe:



2 Cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/4 tsp salt
2-1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1-1/2 C heavy cream (I just used milk)
4 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar into mixing bowl and stir with a fork. Slowly stir in melted butter and add 1 to 1-1/2 cups cream or milk. Mix just until dough comes together. Place dough on a floured board and knead for 1 minute. Pat dough flat to about 3/4" thickness. Cut with round 2" biscuit cutter and place on a buttered baking sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes until browned. Serve with butter and jam.

 These biscuits came out flakey and wonderful! We split them and added more butter and a generous spoonful of Apricot jam. Then we ate some more with homemade sausage gravy!

Sauteed Zucchini/Squash and Fresh Fish

Tonight I am cooking the fresh fish that came in this week's SLO Veg box. According to the description provided on the SLO Veg website, it is "Bank Rockfish" and has a recipe for it grilled. It sounds simple enough, as most of these fish recipes are, and calls for marinating the fish in olive oil and lemon juice. A butter sauce with garlic and basil finishes it it off. This paired with some sauteed zucchini will make a meal in less than 30 minutes.

I am preparing the zucchini and other squashes ahead of time by washing them and trimming off the ends, then slicing them into 1/4-inch thick discs. I think I am going to start with some bacon, because my old landlord used to cook zucchini with bacon and tomatoes all the time and I always loved it. His name was Dick and he was the greatest cook. He never measured anything and just tasted stuff and adjusted it to his liking, which ended up being to all our likings as well. He got home from his job in the early afternoon and always made dinner for his lovely wife, Jean, who got home about 2 hours later. We were often guests for dinner. I make this dish often and think of them when I do.

This was all back in the days when I was a young newlywed and just learning how to cook more than just tuna sandwiches or fried eggs. My Mom usually relied on canned vegetables and Campbell's soup. I do remember calling my Mom one night to ask her if I needed to add any water to a can of green beans I had just opened and poured into a saucepan, or if the liquid from the can was sufficient. Good grief! That wasn't really cooking, it was just reheating. I had a lot to learn! Thank goodness for Dick and Jean, and my Betty Crocker cookbook!!!

Dick would usually have a Mai Tai waiting for Jean, but I paired my dinner with a nice wine cooler.


Grilled Bank Rockfish With Garlic and Basil

2 pounds Rockfish filet
3 tablespoons Oil
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
4 tablespoons Butter
4 Garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Basil, fresh, chopped
1 dash Cayenne pepper

Marinate the fish in the oil and lemon juice for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Grill for 10 to 15 min, turning only once. Time depends on the thickness of your fish. Heat the butter and stew the garlic for 3 min stirring constantly to make sure it doesn’t brown. Add the basil, cayenne pepper and remove from the heat. Either pour the garlic butter over the fish or serve it in a gravy boat on the side.


Dick's Sauteed Zucchini with Bacon in Tomatoes

4 medium sized zucchini or other summer squash
3 strips bacon
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tsp dried basil or 6 leaves fresh basil, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Diced the bacon into pieces and saute in a frying pan until it is rendered and slightly crisp. Remove to platter. Add onions to bacon grease in pan and sauteed until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add zucchini and/or other squash. Saute for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes and basil and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add the bacon to the mixture and serve.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Smoked Albacore appetizer

I wanted to show you the smoked Albacore tuna we got in our SLO Veg box a few weeks back. Instead of the fresh catch of the week which had run out, SLO Veg opted to substitute this tuna. It's local albacore caught from the "Capriccio" fishing boat out of Morro Bay, CA. Cool, huh? Here is their website:

When I opened up the first can, I was pleased to see big, flaky chunks of fish. It looked so appealing! It's smoked albacore, so it has a pretty strong taste and I can only eat it in small bites. I tried making tuna salad sandwiches out of it one week and it was good, but just different. Lee could only eat about half the sandwich, I think because you get this smoky flavor overload and then you are just done. I think the smoked tuna might be better just plain, with a little piece on a cracker or on a cucumber slice, or maybe added into a casserole or something. Smoked tuna gnocchi sounds kind of good (and I have a recipe for that someplace).

You have to remember I am not a real well-rounded fish eater. I rarely cooked fish (if you don't count shrimp) before signing up for the SLO Veg tote and adding on the fresh caught fish component. (Best thing we ever did for ourselves!) On rare occasions I would pick some kind of fish out from the grocery store fish counter. Usually I bought frozen fish and frozen shrimp. Most of my fish-eating experiences were in dining out and then I usually get the fried fish and chips. I have discovered halibut and I really like that grilled or baked. One time my Uncle Bob sent us some fresh-caught salmon from Alaska and my cousin barbecued it for us. I thought it was way too strong of a salmon taste. The meat was bright red and intensely flavored. I kind of thought I preferred the washed out pink stuff from the grocery store. I know, my fish palate really needs to have it's taste buds examined. I am working on it.

There was a recipe on for fish tacos with this stuff that I was thinking of trying also. Then I found a recipe for a smoked tuna appetizer dip made with cream cheese. Yah! That's it.  I guess I will try it out on Lee and Taylor and see how they like it.

Actually what happened is that I made the appetizer real quick before heading out to a dinner party last night. I felt confident it would be okay. I had Taylor taste it before I headed out and he was intrigued. He wanted me to save some for him. I told him I would just make more later...

Note: I blogged about making tuna gnocchi back in January using store-bought, premade gnocchi. Today I watched Giada's show, "Happy Birthday, Raffy", and she shows you how to make your own gnocchi. I guess I will try it with my casserole and the smoked tuna and let you know how it turns out!

This week's tote from SLO Veg

I didn't have time to arrange the fruits and vegies on Thursday for a picture...woke up late and just put everything away before heading out to work. Oh well, it was a beautiful box. Lots of fruit. I already have taken some of it and dried it in the dehydrator. We have dried peaches, nectarines and apricots. This morning I made a pint of my Avocado Cilantro dressing. I think I will make a casserole of the sliced up squash and potatoes, the one with parmesan cheese on top. It is super simple, pretty, and so yummy! I think I need to get some more parmesan cheese, first, however. Then there are the beautiful green beans...I would like to roast them, but its so hot this week I probably will end up just boiling them, or maybe I will try the SLO Veg suggestion of sauteed green beans with tomato and basil...I think I have enough of the lemon basil from last week to make it work. Maybe they would be good with the fish that we haven't had time to cook yet.

Last night we went to a friend's house for dinner, kind of a last minute kind of thing. I didn't even know what the dinner plan was, but I wanted to bring something besides the bottle of Pinot Grigio I had in the cooler, so I made an appetizer dip with the canned smoked albacore we got in the boxes several weeks ago. I found a recipe in which you mix the tuna with cream cheese and it turned out to be a hit! I will definately have to make that one again! The main dish turned out to be Cioppino, so it was a perfect pairing, in my opinion. Everyone seemed to really like my appetizer.

Fruit, Vegetable, Herb, and Juice List for 06/24/2013 - 06/28/2013 THIS WEEK'S TOTE INCLUDES:
Honey Dew Melon, "Dolly" Plums, Yellow Nectarines, Sweet "Valencia" Oranges, Vine Ripened "Shady Lady" Tomatoes, "Haas" & "Bacon" Avocados, "Blue Lake" Green Beans, Celery, Radishes, Cucumbers, Yellow Squash, Lebanese Squash, Spinach, and Pistachios 

Mint and Lime Melon Salad; Nectarine and Almond Crisp; Baked Nectarines with Greek Yogurt and Honey; Nectarine and Tomato Salad; Citrus Muffins; Spinach Salad with Orange Vinaigrette; Green Bean Tomato Salad with Basil and Feta Cheese; Sautéed Green Beans with Tomatoes and Basil Served with Parmesan Crisps; Spicy Shrimp and Avocado Salad; Egg, Ham and Spinach Pizza; Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing; Grilled Summer Squash; Squash and Zucchini Cakes; Creamy Pistachio Pops; Salmon with Pistachio Basil Butter

Bautista Farms, Bell Farms, Canyon Ranch Farms, Martinon Farms, The Fruit Factory 

Dried peaches: Lee's first attempt

So the Hubby got a new food dehydrator for Father's Day. He was really excited about it, for one reason because he wants to make some homemade beef jerky. The other is that he and Taylor love dried fruit to snack on. So with all the peaches and nectaries and apricots we have been getting from SLO Veg, we tried our hand at drying fruit.

The process is so simple, I don't know why I never tried it before. Well, actually, I do know why. I didn't ever have a food dehydrator. Nope, I didn't. I know, I can't believe it either! Heck, I just got my first Kitchen Aide mixer for a wedding present 3 years ago! I just always made do with what I had and didn't worry about it. My old mixer was an Oster Kitchen Center, which was cool because it had a lot of attachments like a food processor and blender and ice cream maker. Problem was that I burnt up the motor--twice. My father-in-law always ordered parts and fixed it for me until it finally wore out.

Tart and sweet at the same time, dried Peaches!
Lee was completely in charge of this first fruit-drying endeavor. He read the directions and made a pre-treatment for the peaches consisting of lemon juice. I told him he could add some water, too, to cover it, so he did that and let it sit in the solution for 5 minutes. Then on to the trays went the fruit and he turned on the fan. It makes a low kind of hum, not too terribly annoying. The booklet said it might take 12-16 hours, so since we started it later one evening we figured it would be fine to go all night long.

In the morning the fruit was dried and ready to bag up. Not really sure why he bothered to bag it up, because he and Taylor scarfed so much of it down that there wasn't much to store. It was all gone by the end of the next day, anyway. Time to make some more!

 A few days later after we got our next box of fruits and vegies from SLO Veg, I took a couple each of the peaches, nectaries and apricots and pre-treated the sliced fruit in a pineapple juice mixture. I had just opened up a can of pineapple chunks, and I figured hey, this juice would be perfect for a fruit pre-treatment.

My batch of fruit dried all day long and took about 8 hours. I think the apricots could actually have gone a wee bit longer, but it was a small batch so I just bagged it up and put it in the refrigerator. It will be gone in no time at all. I am not sure how well the fruit would store on the shelf. We are going to have to test that out soon...if I can make the stuff last!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bobby Flay's Black Bean Chili recipe, sort of

Making some chili today! I found this recipe for Bobby Flay's Beef and Black bean chili, so I followed it as closely as I could. I don't always have the right ingredients, so I can't say it's exactly his chili, because with my substitutions it is now MY chili. First of all, I used dried beans. I had some in the cupboard for several months and decided I should cook them. So I put the beans on the stove in a big pot of water and cooked them for about 2 hours until they were nice and soft.

We like all kinds of beer. I recently covered my kitchen cart with beer caps.

I started the meat sauce using 1-1/2 pounds of ground beef, because that's how I had it packaged in my freezer. A little short for his recipe and its ground, not chunks, so there ya go! So I browned the beef, added the onions and garlic, and chili powders and then poured in a bottle of dark beer...err, not so dark beer. It's 805. It's a Blonde Ale. It's what we have in the frig. It's also kind of expensive...and it wasn't a "whole" bottle, because I had to taste it a couple of times. Quality control. That's important. If you have to know more, here is the link:

So where was I? Ah, the meat the beer cooked down and I added the tomatoes--fresh ones, from SLO Veg. I tasted the meat and wow! spicy and smokey! Bobby's recipe called for ancho chili powder, pasilla chili powder and cumin. I had regular red chili powder, chipotle chili powder and --score!- pasilla chili powder. Chipotle chili powder is dried, ground jalapenos. Ancho chili powder is from dried poblano chilies. I think the chipotle is hotter, so I used just one tablespoon instead of Bobby's recommended three tablespoons of ancho. I have been getting all my spices from New Frontiers Market in San Luis Obispo from their bulk bins. They all smell so strong and fresh and I just love them! Plus I save a ton of money buying them this way...I can fill up my spice jars for between 50 cents and 2 dollars.

I decided to add the bean water to the sauce, because it looked so ... beany! I mean, the beans were rinsed and cooked, and the water I used was fresh, so I just don't see the point of using chicken stock. I checked my cupboard and didn't have any chipotle adobe in a can, so nix that. After all, I did use chipotle chili powder. Good enough. I did have some honey, though, so I added a generous amount.

I have some avocados from SLO Veg, so I will make the avocado relish from the recipe. Actually, I will just mix in some of the salsa I already have made with some chunks of avocado. I love to improvise! I am waffling right now between running down to the Mexican market for some crema, or just using plain ol sour cream. If you haven't ever used crema, I recommend trying it. It is so thick and good! Oh heck, it is hours before dinner...I am going for a ride. (It was two sips, and it was an hour ago!)


Bobby Flay's Beef and Black Bean Chili with Toasted Cumin Crema and Avocado Relish

1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds beef, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large red onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon pasilla chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 bottle dark beer
5 cups homemade chicken stock, or canned low-sodium or water
1 (16-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, drained and pureed
1 tablespoon chipotle pepper puree
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Toasted Cumin Crema, recipe follows
Avocado Relish, recipe follows

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper, and saute until browned on all sides. Transfer the meat to a plate and remove all but 3 tablespoons of the fat from the pan.

Add the onions to the pan and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the ancho powder, pasilla powder, and cumin and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add the beer and cook until completely reduced. Return the beef to the pot, add the chicken stock, tomatoes, chipotle puree, and honey, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the beans and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the lime juice, and adjust seasonings.

Serve with a dollop of Toasted Cumin Crema and Avocado Relish.

Toasted Cumin Crema:
1 tablespoon cumin seed
1 cup Mexican crema or creme fraiche
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the cumin in a small saute pan over medium heat. Toast until lightly golden brown. Place in a small bowl. Stir in the crema and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place in a squeeze bottle.

Avocado Relish:
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno or serrano chile, finely diced
Lime juice
Chopped cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.

BASIL! Bruschetta and Grilled Basil Chicken

I did the olive oil and garlic thing and toasted the bread, then spread on some farmer's cheese mixed with basil, topped it with a salted tomato and heated it all up for another 5 minutes. So fresh and hot and delicious!
What's for dinner tonight? Hmmm...I have a loaf of sourdough sliced bread and some chicken breasts in the freezer, I have cheese (provolone slices), and I have TOMATOES and fresh BASIL! That'll work. Yeah Baby!

Okay, so I planned to make the recipe below, but then I discovered the provolone had disappeared! (That happens...) So I found my recipe for Tomato-Basil Bruschetta with a farmer's cheese mix from Bobby Flay's collection. I have several binders full of recipes I really like that I have found online and this is one I always go to. I will share both recipes, Bobby's and SLO Veg's. Oh, and I didn't really have any farmer's cheese on hand, but I did have some Mexican Ranchero cheese. Kind of soft and a little will work!

We munched on this appetizer while enjoying a beer and talking out the day. Then I cooked the chicken and steamed the vegetables. They were simply cut up vegies (broccoli, carrots, sweet peppers, green onion) with a sprig of lemon basil on top, steamed in the microwave in Lee's steamer thingy and topped with some butter and coarse salt. I think we ate dinner around 9 pm....sigh! The chicken was really, really good, by the way.

Note: Lee and I met in 2005. When I got him, he had some cooking utensils: a garlic press, a microwave steamer, a crock pot, an Oster Kitchen Center and four...count 'em, four! pizza cutters. Also a bunch of dull knives. I still want a new set of kitchen knives. I love that he had the Oster thing, because I had one in years past and burnt the motor up...twice, or maybe three times.


Recipes from SLO Veg

Baked Caprese Salad (Roma Tomatoes/Basil ) 
Servings: 10-12 Appetizer's Level: Easy  Cook Time: 25 Min
1 loaf baguette, cut into 1/2-inch 
  thick slices (about 30 to 36 slices) 
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
5 Roma tomatoes, sliced 
1 1/4 pounds fresh mozzarella, sliced 
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, stemmed 
Directions: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Arrange the sliced baguette bread on a baking sheet. Brush with some of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake until the bread is pale golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Top each slice of bread with a slice of tomato and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top each slice of tomato with a slice of mozzarella and sprinkle with salt. Return the baking sheet to the oven until the cheese and tomato are warmed, about 5 minutes. Arrange the toasts on a serving platter. Top each toast with a basil leaf. Using the brush, drizzle the remaining olive oil over the basil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.


Basil Grilled Chicken (Basil) 

Servings: 4 Level: Easy  Cook Time: 20 Minutes

3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper 
4 skinned chicken breast halves 
1/4 cup freshly chopped basil leaves, plus 2 tablespoons freshly minced basil leaves 
1/3 cup (5 tablespoons) butter, melted, plus 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature 
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan 
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
1/8 teaspoon pepper 
Fresh basil springs, optional 
Directions: Prepare charcoal grill. Press the coarsely ground pepper into the meaty side of the chicken breast halves. Stir the chopped basil into the melted butter. Brush the chicken lightly with this mixture. In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, minced basil, Parmesan, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Beat at low speed with an electric mixer until smoothly blended. Transfer to a small serving bowl; set aside. Grill the chicken over medium coals for 8 to 10 minutes on each side, basting frequently with the remaining melted butter mixture. Serve the grilled chicken with the basil-butter mixture. Garnish with fresh basil springs, if desired.  
I decided to pound the chicken breasts into a flatter filet so they would cook faster and more evenly. Turned out good!

My Cooking Shows

Watching "Pioneer Woman" and "Trisha's Southern Kitchen" this morning! Now I want to make a club sandwich, Greek salad and homemade potato chips, as well as an chicken enchilada casserole with a Sangria-rita from Trisha's show! I also want to check out a Zumba class : )
Love Ree's box lunch! I had to mix up some of the Greek salad dressing during the commercial because I got a nice cucumber and some ripe tomatoes in our SLO Veg box and I want to have it for dinner tonight. Lee loves Greek salads! I am including the links so you can see what I am talking about!;postID=2692905754448682611 

Trisha's Southern Kitchen just won a Daytime Emmy for an Outstanding Culinary show. I guess she will be filling the gap for Paula Deen, who just got axed. Maybe that is the real reason behind Food Network's decision. I love Paula Deen, but I was kind of over her. Still, I don't think she deserves to be dumped this way. It wasn't something she said on the show, while representing Food Network, or anything like that. It was something from the past.

Okay, watching Giada now. I love how she makes everything decadent with light and healthy twists. Right now she is making blueberry corn muffins. Looks so delicious. I wonder if we are getting any blueberries? hey, what was that? She just used cardamon in something...gotta back that up. Chai Latte! Yum. I have a whole spice jar full of cardamon and I hardly ever use it. I also caught the tail end of  "Barefoot Contessa" where Ina Garten visits the home of Michael Chiarello. He was a contestant on The Next Iron Chef and we just loved him! He and Ina cooked some chicken seasoned with fennel and rosemary with a grape juice-fig sauce on top. So now I am wondering: will we be getting any figs or grapes in the SLO Veg box. I will have to ask Rachael...

*Note to Self: always try to have Saturday mornings off! Its the best time for me to watch my shows. Taylor is usually sleeping in, and Lee has already left for work. DVR is mine all mine!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fresh Summer Kick-Off Apricot Crisp!

Golden, sweet apricots quartered and diced for a Summer-kick off Apricot Crisp
Gonna use my Apricots today! I love fresh fruit cobblers and crisps, so this recipe from Sunset just hit the spot for me. We got some beautiful golden and perfectly ripe apricots in the SLO Veg box yesterday. You know they are just ripe enough when you cut into the fruit and it pulls right off the pit without any resistance. Perfect! Yum!
I couldn't wait so I prepped everything this morning, washing and cubing up the fruit. I mixed in the lemon juice and sugar in a bowl, then made the crumble topping in another bowl. I melted the butter and decided to try it with almond flour today. Going with the almond accompaniment, I stirred in toasted almond slices, dried cranberries and black rainsins. 
After I divided my fruit mix between four ramekins, I spooned the crumble topping into a generous layer on top and put them on a baking sheet. I had about a cup or so of topping left over...hmmm. Then I covered it with plastic wrap and put it into the frig until tonight. I want to bake it and eat it hot! with ice cream!!!
(*note to Self: go buy ice cream : ) )

Recipe from Sunset:

Fresh Apricot Crisp

Small ramekins make great individual crisps
A crunchy topping sets off apricots which are so flavorful you do not have to add much to them.   If using supermarket apricots, cut each into quarters, increase lemon juice to 2 tbsp. and granulated sugar to 1/2 cup, and mix a pinch each of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg into the fruit before baking.
Sunset JUNE 2007
  • Yield: Makes 8 servings
  • Total:1 Hour


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I used almond  flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins (*I used black raisins and dried cranberries)
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans (*I used sliced toasted almonds)
  • 5 cups pitted and halved fresh apricots (about 15 apricots)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease an 8- by 8-in. baking pan. Melt butter and let cool. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and brown sugar. Stir in oats, raisins (if using), and pecans, then stir in melted butter.
2. Toss apricots with lemon juice and granulated sugar and spread in baking pan. Squeeze topping into shaggy chunks and scatter over apricots. Bake until bubbling, 40 to 50 minutes; cool at least 30 minutes, and serve with vanilla ice cream.

***Cooks notes: After I reviewed and edited this Sunset recipe a bit and putting in my substitutions, I realized why I had leftover topping. I only used about 8 apricots or about 2 cups, which was just enough to fill four ramekins about two-third of the way up. I put about a half-inch of topping on each one. Maybe if I had 15 apricots, I could have make 8 or so ramekins and would have had enough topping for all of them. I actually do have two gallon-sized bags of apricots in the freezer, so when I have company I can make a casserole-sized dish using this recipe. Oh, and I got my ramekins at Cost Plus World Market. See the link below.

So when I tried to bake two of these desserts in the toaster oven, I burnt them. That is where the extra topping will come in handy, because I plan to take the burnt stuff off and put new topping on it and bake it again. Meanwhile, I got smart and just put the remaining two ramekins in the regular oven where they would be safe. I didn't burn these ones, mostly because Lee kept saying "What do you have in the oven?" every five minues. Thanks, honey....I don't know how I would manage without you. Topped off with French vanilla ice cream, it does look delicious. Can't wait to eat it!

First day of Summer

Hmmmmm...what to cook today? I have peaches, carrots, lemon basil, zucchini, tomatoes, lotsa lettuce...maybe some kind of grilled salad? Might have to look to Bobby Flay for inspiration.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ramen, embellished

Might go-to quickie lunch is Top Ramen chock-full of vegetables.

I usually search through the fridge in pull out things like celery, green onions, carrots, and sugar snap peas. I chop them up and throw them in the pot of water along with the ramen seasoning packet to simmer for a few minutes before I put the noodles. I'll add additional seasoning like dried basil, oregano, and garlic to make it my own. Fresh herbs are even better!

After I add the noodles, I put the lid on and let it steam for about five minutes, then it's ready to eat.

Beautiful Fruit and Tomatoes!

Fruit, Vegetable, Herb, and Juice List for 06/17/2013 - 06/21/2013

THIS WEEK'S TOTE INCLUDES:White Peaches, Yellow Peaches, White Nectarines, Apricots, "Organic" Italian or Lemon Basil, Green Leaf Lettuce, Vine Ripened "Shady Lady" Tomatoes, Zucchini, Broccoli, Spring Onions, Carrots, Cucumbers, and Bloom Microgreens "Hon Vit" Radish Shoots 

THIS WEEK'S RECIPES ( Tomato Salad; Nectarine Basil Iced Tea; Nectarine Cobbler; Spiced Rice with Nectarines; Grilled Peach Salad; Peach Cobbler; Savory Peach Chicken; Peach Fruit Salsa; Baked Caprese Salad; Marinated Tomatoes; Black Pepper Basil Farmer's Cheese Bruschetta with Tomatoes; Basil Pesto; Roasted Broccoli and Feta Salad; Whole - Wheat Spaghetti with Lemon, Basil, and Salmon; Corn with Black Bean Salad with Basil-Lime Vinaigrette; Stuffed Young Zucchini; Glazed Carrots; Cold Cucumber Salad; Tomato, Onion, and Cucumber Salad; Bloom Microgreens Recipes: 

THIS WEEK'S LOCAL FARMERS:Bautista Farms, Bell Farms, Bloom Microgreens, Le-Forte Organic Crops, Martinon Farms, The Fruit Factory  

Nectarine Basil iced tea...tomato brushetta...peach cobbler...

Beautiful, aromatic box today! The lemon basil is right at the top of the nose with its mouth-watering, herbacious scent. I had to diced some up immediately and put it unto my ramen-vegetable soup.

I think i will make a nice salad for work tonight. It doesn't get much fresher than this, unless I went out and picked it myself. But I don't want to. Isn't that why I signed up for SLO Veg to begin with? Oh yeah! Those farmers really do it best!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day BBQ

Lee biting into a popper.
So the deal was, I prep the food and Lee will cook it. (I made  that deal myself, then I let him in on it). Pretty good deal, seeing as how he loves to barbecue. Since it was Father's Day, I wanted to accomodate him.  
Remember those sweet peppers I stuffed with a blend of Mexican shredded cheese and cream cheese, then wrapped in bacon? They made the perfect appetizer! Lee grilled them on a grill platter and they came out with a nice char and a creamy, melted cheese inside.
Then he put the marinated tri-tip on to grill for about 45 minutes. That gave him plenty of time to enjoy a nice cold beer in a nice frosty mug along with some tortilla chips and mango salsa. Lee had a little hand in that one. I had bought some mango salsa from the store, then I made a batch of Pico de Gallo. Lee decided to mix the two together for a fresher mix of sweet and spicy. Not bad, Honey! It sure tasted pretty good with the 805 beer. The last thing to go on the grill was the vegie skewers that had zucchini, yellow squash and mushrooms coated with olive oil and a barbecue seasoning blend. I think that was just Santa Maria seasoning: salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Lee was in charge of that, too.

Here is the plated dinner. I took the ends of the tri-tip, which was a little more cooked. Lee and Taylor ate the more rare stuff in the middle of the roast.
 Not all the food came from SLO Veg, but I used as much as I could: sweet potatoes, green onions, zucchini, yellow squash, cilantro and olive oil.
Of course, there were presents--a new food dehydrator
Lee and T enjoying a refreshing beverage.
Then there was dessert: homemade cheesecake. Well, semi-homemade. I used a graham cracker crust.

Vegies Skewers

I made the vegie skewers  the day before the barbecue as well. I simply washed the vegies and sliced the squash into 1/2 rounds, a little thicker than normal. That way I could thread them on the skewer with the wide side facing out to get the most heat from the grill. I left the mushrooms whole. It as an easy assembly alternating colors and shapes. I made sure to point the skewer down as I threaded the vegies on it so as to not stab myself! Then they just went into the frig for the night with the other prepped foods. Just before grilling, I drizzled on a little olive oil and let Lee pick the seasoning for them. I think he used the Santa Maria style barbecue seasoning blend of salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Super simple and delicious!

I soaked the skewers for a couple of hours in water prior to assembly.
a good tip is to point the skewer down as you poke it through the vegies.
All barbecue food is prepped and ready for the next day!


Tools of the lid lifter, jar lifter, wide mouth funnel, lids, pectin and the Book!

Sweet Potato Salad, Southern Kitchen style

The perfect accompaniment to a barbecued dinner? Potato salad. But after watching Trisha Yearwood's Southern Kitchen cooking show on Saturday, I knew I had to make it with sweet potatoes. Luckily, I had some sweet potatoes left from my SLO Veg box from two weeks ago. They were still good, not mushy at all, so I was in business!
I pretty much followed her recipe, with one variation. After I tasted a bite, I decided to add a tablespoon of honey just to sweeten it up a tiny bit. The result was awesome!

I prepped the sweet potatoes by peeling, slicing and cubing them into 1 inch chunks. Then they went into a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. You don't want to overcook the potatoes or the salad will turn to mush.

I drained the potatoes and rinsed them under cold water to stop the cooking. Then it was time to make the dressing so I assembled all the ingredients: mayonnaise, sour cream, red pepper, green onions, an orange, apple cider vinegar, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper.
I measured out the sour cream and mayo, diced up the red pepper and green onions, grated the orange peel, salt and pepper, and added the apple cider vinegar and Tabasco sauce to my favorite mixing bowl. After giving it a stir, I tasted a bite. Mmm, pretty sour-creamy. I wanted a little more sweetness. My answer? Honey! Oh yeah, perfect with sweet potatoes. So I added a tablespoon full of honey and gave it another stir, then tasted again. Yeah, that's what I'm talking about! I like it!

So I had the salad all made and stored in the frig in a big plastic bowl. Tomorrow I could sleep in after working all night, and Lee could handle the barbecuing chores. Not really a chore for him, because he loves it. So he can be doing just exactly what he loves on Father's Day. Sure am glad I thought of this!

Trisha's recipe:

4 large sweet potatoes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup diced scallions (about 6)
1 red pepper, finely diced
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
Salt and pepper


Peel and cube the sweet potatoes and put them in a large pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

While the potatoes are cooling, in a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, yogurt, scallions, red pepper, chives, orange zest, apple cider vinegar and hot sauce. Add the cooled potatoes to the mixture, and toss until the potatoes are fully coated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Best served chilled. 
* Remember, I added some honey for a little more sweetness. That is the only deviation I did today with this one!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father's Day food prep

Taylor gladly helped bring in the groceries today!
I went to Costco yesterday and stocked up! We got a new freezer (thanks Eric!) and my mission prior to the big day (aka Father's Day!) was to stock it up. It now contains tri-tip, bacon!, hamburger in 1-1/2 pound packages, hamburger patties, chicken breasts, thighs and legs, all packaged for a dinner-sized serving, and even some extra cheese--the Costco bag came in a two pack, one for now and one for later. Note: the beer went into the frig, but the beer mugs are in the freezer getting all frosty!
I bought some Philadelphia cream cheese and plan to use it in a variety of ways. We have some smoked fish from the local fisheries and I found some recipes for a smoked fish spread made with cream cheese. Yum! But here I mixed the cream cheese with some shredded Mexican cheese blend and filled these little sweet peppers. Then I wrapped them in bacon and they are ready for the Father's Day barbecue.
Beef tri-tip is marinating in the frig.
Sweet Potato salad inspired by Trisha Yearwood's cooking show this morning.
Vegie skewers are all ready to grill

All wrapped and ready for tomorrow's Father's Day Barbecue. Best part? I am not cooking!

My favorite Tri Tip Marinade

I found a marinade for Tri-Tip roasts that I really, really like and I use it all the time. Its also good for fish or chicken, but I like it best with the beef. It calls for olive oil (but I used avocado oil), soy sauce, tequila!, cilantro, garlic,onions, cumin, lime peel and juice, salt and pepper.  I put the meat in a zip lock bag and let it sit in the frig for several hours or overnight. Then you cook the meat on an oak barbecue and don't burn it!

1/2 C Lime Juice
2 tsp grated Lime Peel
1/2 C chopped fresh Cilantro
1/2 C Olive or Avocado oil
1/3 C Soy Sauce or Tamari
1/4 C Tequila
3 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 tsp. ground Cumin
1 tsp. Oregano
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Sea Salt