Saturday, August 31, 2013

Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette with Tatsoi

Sweet and tangy all in one!

Hey! I have fresh raspberries from my SLO Veg box. I also have some Mandarin oranges, and dried cranberries on the shelf and walnuts in the freezer. I can make this recipe I saw Trisha making this morning for a fresh and tangy salad. All I need is Feta cheese and some greens. Hmmm...maybe that Tatsoi spinach stuff would be good here. I don't know that I have enough for a big salad, but maybe combined with some field greens or Romaine lettuce? Yeah! Life is good!

As for the salad, I have Tatsoi, a mustard-spinach green, to try for the first time. I think it will be delicious with the Raspberry Vinaigrette. I will chop up some celery and green onions, add shredded carrots and some of the Bloom's Microgreens, and top it with walnuts and cranberries. If only I had some feta...
New this week in our SLO Veg delivery is Tatsoi, a mustard-spinach green from Pepper Creek Family Farms in Huasna Valley. I wanted to save them until I had time to consider how to prepare them, but I did try a bit of one leaf and it was crisp, with a deep green flavor. I am not sure how the mustard plays into it, but its good. The stalks seem to be a little less pithy than some spinach, but the bunches we got look very young, so maybe that is a factor. I checked out their facebook page:, and was pleased to find a plethora of products, including living lettuces and basil which are grown hydroponically. I think I will have to take a trip to the Morro Bay farmer's market today and look these guys up! I want another type of lettuce, maybe romaine or curly lettuce, to mix these greens with for my salad tonight.
I haven't talked at all about the little sprouts we have been enjoying in our salads. They are from Bloom Microgreens and vary from sunflower sprouts, bean sprouts, pea shoots, radish shoots, and "oh shoot!", all kinds of greens! We have been getting little boxes of a variety of sprout/shoots each week for a while, and they add such a nice crunch and variation to our lunchbox salads. Lee really has fun showing off his lunches with his homemade dressings and all the fresh, earthy ingredients. Check them out at:
Here is the link to Trisha Yearwood's Food Network website:


1 pound mixed tatsoi and lettuce, romaine or curly leaf type
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup walnut pieces
2 fresh Mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup celery, sliced
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup microgreens

1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad: Place the salad greens in a large bowl. Mix in the cranberries, walnuts, mandarin oranges, celery, green onion and feta cheese and microgreens.

For the vinaigrette: Combine the raspberries, vinegars, sugar and mustard in a blender until smooth. Slowly stream in the oil until combined.

Toss the salad with the vinaigrette before serving.

Cook Notes: Aged balsamic vinegar gives this vinaigrette a bold, rich flavor. Increase the sugar if your raspberries aren't sweet enough for your taste.
Ingredients are assembled: Apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, fresh raspberries, olive oil

Friday, August 30, 2013

Pork Chops and Plum Sauce

Have plums? Make plum sauce! It was really, really easy, and a first for me. Water, sugar = boil. Add sliced plums, ginger, lemon juice, and hoisin sauce. Puree. Pour onto grilled chops. That's it!

The hardest part was grinding the coriander to make a seasoning for the chops. Well, it wasn't actually hard. I ground the coriander seeds in my coffee grinder. Then I mixed it with seasoned salt and coated both sides of my pork cutlet. I grilled both sides, then put it in the oven in a ramekin to cook a little more because it was a really thick chop. Pour on the sauce and enjoy. Preferably with a glass of wine, but I am taking mine to work in a plastic container. Oh well! Hope Lee likes it. He has to grill his own chop.

Pork Tenderloin with Plum BBQ Sauce (Plums) 

Servings: 4  Level: Easy
Recipe from the SLO Veg website:
1/2 cup sugar 
1 cup water 
1 (1-inch) piece peeled ginger, grated 
4 plums, sliced 
1 teaspoon five-spice powder 
1/2 lemon, juiced 
1/3 cup hoisin sauce 
2 pork tenderloins, silver skin removed 
Vegetable oil 
2 tablespoons grill seasoning 
1 tablespoon ground coriander
Directions: Heat a grill pan, broiler or grill to high heat. Heat the sugar and water in a medium pot over medium-high heat. When the mixture reaches a bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the ginger, plums and five-spice powder. Simmer for 10 minutes, then stir in the lemon juice. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Add the plum mixture to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in the hoisin sauce. Reserve. While the plums are cooking, put the pork tenderloins on a sheet pan and coat with oil, grill seasoning and coriander. Grill, or broil 6 inches from heat, until just firm, about 20 to 22 minutes. Remove from the grill to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest for about 5 minutes, then slice and arrange on a platter. Top with the plum barbecue sauce and serve.

Plum sauce is ready for the beautiful pork tenderloin cutlets

Portuguese Tomato Sauce on Baked Cod

The other evening I got out an old cookbook, "Records of Memories", that my Mother-in-law had given me a decade ago. It contains a collection of recipes from the Portuguese side of the family, who were fishermen, hunters and ranchers whose relatives had immigrated to the Central Coast from the Azore Islands. There are other influences from Danish, Italian and German cultures represented as well. Therefore this cookbook collection contains many recipes for fish, venison, chicken, pork, beef and hearty dishes that will stick to your ribs and keep your body fueled. It also has many amazing side dishes and fabulous desserts that those women and men loved to make for their family gatherings. There is even a aection called, "Cooking for a Crowd - 50, 250, 500 or 5000." You know, a typical holiday family gathering type of crowd....It was really fun to browse through the recipes and read the names of the contributors, figuring out who was related to whom and so forth.

I remember my Mother-in-law saying what a good cook Aunt Marcel was. I found several recipes I want to share with my daughters as they get more interested in cooking so they can make some old family recipes for their Dad.

Marcel Raminha's Portuguese tomato sauce is great on fish
We got Albacore in the SLO Veg shipment this week, freshly caught in our local waters. It is perfect for baking and smothering in a tomato-based sauce such as this one submitted to the cookbook by Aunt Marcel. The albacore is firm and bakes through without drying out, plus there are no little bones to worry about. The sauce is simply onions, garlic, tomatoes with rosemary and thyme for seasoning. I coated the fish with olive oil and sprinkled it with lemon pepper and coarse salt. Then I baked it in a ramekin for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, I sauteed the onions, added in chopped garlic and diced tomatoes and let it cook down for about 15 minutes. I seasoned the sauce with salt and pepper, then topped the fish with a generous ladle-full just after it came out of the oven and served it in the ramekin. I paired the fish with sauteed buttered carrots with parsley and green onions.

Fish is seasoned and ready to bake in the oven for 25 min at 350 degrees
I baked my portion and ate it before going to work. Then I left the hub's portion fixed and ready for the oven with Instructions. He loved it. His text read, "Yummy dinner!" Uh-huh!

The final product, sauced and paired with buttered carrots for a garden-fresh meal

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kale goes great in Soup!

I am always looking for something I can make ahead of time for dinner so that I can take it with me and leave some for the boys' dinner at home. This soup looks promising. I can prepare it and then keep it warm in the crockpot for the hour or so time lapse from when I cook it to when they get to eat it. Yes, we are like ships passing in the night around here...I know I kissed my husband goodbye this morning as he was waking and I was going to sleep, but I really don't remember it. Sorry babe! Enjoy your dinner and be quiet. 

Anyway, I knew there was still a bundle of "Dino" kale in frig waiting for me to do something with it. I also had some red potatoes, onion, garlic, and Portuguese linguicia sausage, so what better thing to make than an hearty soup using all of the above? Kale works well in soups and stews because it hold up to the heat without becoming green mush. 

Since I was starting the soup kind of late in the day, I decided to saute the diced potatoes in a saucepan with olive oil to brown them a little and speed up the cooking process. I also sauted the onion and garlic, and then browned the sliced linguicia sausage prior to dumping it all into the crock pot. The key ingredient here was the caraway seeds, and I had a good supply of them spice cabinet. I sprinkled the seeds in with the sauteed onions to bring out their flavor.

I set the crockpot to the high setting for 4 hours, and hoped the potatoes would be cooked theough by the time it was serving time. just before I left for work I stirred in the sliced kale and ladeled a bowl of soup into a portable dish that I can take with me. 

Later that evening, I was rewarded with a text from my husband that said, "Good soup, by the way!"  He's a very lucky man!

 Smoked Sausage, Kale and Potato Soup    

4 ounces smoked fully cooked sausage (such as kielbasa or hot 
  links), sliced into rounds
2 3/4 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3/4 pound small red-skinned potatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups thinly sliced trimmed kale leaves 
(about 3/4 of medium bunch) or 3/4 of 10-ounce package frozen
   chopped kale, thawed, drained
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, lightly crushed
Directions: Sauté sausage slices in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add chicken broth, sliced potatoes and white wine and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until potatoes are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Add kale and caraway seeds to soup. Simmer soup uncovered until potatoes and kale are very tender, about 10 minutes longer. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and serve immediately.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Broccoli Pizza

As I was blogging this morning, Lee and I were watching Rachel Ray's show "Fitness Legends". Her guest Daphne Oz showed how to make "broccoli pizza", which is basically roasted broccoli with pizza seasonings and parmesan cheese. Hey, we have broccoli. We have shredded Parmesan. I have lemons somewhere... We are making broccoli pizza for lunch!!! Yum yum yum.

Daphne Oz's Cheesy “Pizza” Broccoli
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried chile flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper


Steam the whole head of broccoli for a lovely presentation, or speed the process along by breaking or cutting into bite-sized florets. Steam the broccoli until you can easily insert a knife into the center of the broccoli head (about 20 minutes) or fork into the large florets (5 to 6 minutes).
Preheat the broiler. Drain the broccoli and place it in a baking dish. Drizzle it with the oil, and sprinkle it with cheese, chile flakes and oregano. Broil the broccoli until the cheese is golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Squeeze lemon juice onto the broccoli, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Mini Caprese Salad

From what I can tell, mozarella balls have a lot of names in Italian, depending on their size, I suppose. Rachel Ray called her's bocconcini. I bought ciliegine (mozarella balls) at Trader Joe's. They were in a watery bath, not marinated. Basically, I halved them along with a pint of fresh cherry tomatoes from SLO Veg, mixed in some Balsamic Viniagrette that I also bought at TJ's, and chopped up some parsley, basil and mint leaves and stirred them in. I seasoned my salad with coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and squeezed in the juice from half a lemon. That's it. I had a long day today and that's all I could muster. But if you want to make your dressing from scratch, here is a recipe from Rachel Ray.



1 lemon, juiced
1 small clove garlic, grated or minced
1 cup basil leaves, about 20 leaves, plus a few for garnish
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, multi colored if available, halved
1 cup bocconcini (bite-sized fresh mozzarella balls), drained, halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Combine lemon juice, garlic, basil in food processor or blender, process and stream in extra-virgin olive oil to form a smooth dressing. Combine tomatoes, cheese and dressing in a bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with a few torn basil leaves.

Strawberry Yogurt Cake

I was going to make some kind of tart or strudel using phyllo dough...then I came across this recipe from A Spicy Perspective's blog. Strawberry Yogurt Cake? I'm down!

I had saved this on my Pinterest dessert board and saw it again while browsing for a good dessert idea. I have strawberries--two baskets--from this week's SLO Veg delivery. My girls are coming over for dinner on Sunday, and this will be the perfect finish to our family dinner. I am so excited!

I was thinking of making rice pilaf with peas, and some kind of pork-something...maybe kabobs. I might make a Strawberry and Spinach salad, too. Do you think that will be too much? I am in a strawberry mood!


Actually, for the main dish, I ended up getting a couple of pork tenderloins and putting Lee in charge of them with a new recipe where they are seared in a hot oven at 500° for 5-1/2 minutes per pound. The package weighed 3.16 pounds, so he even did a mathematical calculation to come up with the exact cooking time. Then the oven is turned off and the tenderloins sat in the warm oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour without opening the oven door to peak at all! It worked! Perfect pork tenderloins!

I also made roasted green beans with the tri-colored beans from SLO Veg. That, a mini-caprese salad, the pork and the rice pilaf completed dinner, then we had the Strawberry cake. Good thing we ate dinner before dessert or we would have devoured the whole thing. 


Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 Tbs. lemon juice, divided
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
8 oz. plain or vanilla, Greek yogurt
12 oz. fresh strawberries, diced
1 cup powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan (10-15 cup pan.) Sift together the 2 ¼ cups of flour, baking soda and salt. Mix in the lemon zest and set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in 1 Tbs. lemon juice and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Alternate beating in the flour mixture and the yogurt, mixing just until incorporated.
  3. Toss the strawberries with the remaining ¼ cup of flour. Gently mix them into the batter.
  4. Pour the batter into the Bundt pan. Place in the oven and reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool at least 20 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Once cooled whisk together the remaining 2 Tb. of lemon juice and the powdered sugar. Drizzle over the top of cake

Rice Pilaf

The side dish I chose for my Sunday dinner was a rice pilaf. I modeled it after this Emeril recipe, but forgot the saffron (I have it on hand too!), and ommitted the sausage. Another tweak was that I used the sweet Italian pepper that came in our SLO Veg box two weeks ago. I had frozen the peppers because we went out of town that week, but I am so glad I used one in this recipe. Nice sweet pepper flavor and it colored the rice to a nice light yellow like you would get from saffron.

Rice Pilaf


1/4 pound linguica sausage, crumbled or finely diced
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell peppers or a sweet Italian pepper 
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups long grain rice
1 cup vermichelli pasta
4 cups vegetable stock
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup green peas, thawed if frozen


In a large saucepan, cook the sausage over medium-high heat until browned and the fat is rendered. Add the onions and bell peppers, and cook, stirring, until very soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
(*at this point I put the rice and vermichelli into the rice cooker, added the liquid and set it to cook, which is probably why I forgot saffron).
 Add the rice and vermichelli and cook, stirring, until opaque, about 1 minute. Add the stock, salt, and saffron, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until almost all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Add the peas without stirring, re-cover and cook until all the water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Strawberry Lemon Marmalade

My ultimate sandwich? Peanut butter and homemade strawberry jam...with butter on a crunchy whole wheat bread. Today I had all the components: a fresh batch of strawberry-lemon marmalade, softened butter, Sara Lee's 100% whole wheat bread with honey, and peanut butter! Whew. I was sweating the last one because the guys tend to eat peanut butter like candy around here.

Spread softened butter on one side of a slice of bread. Top with jam. Spread peanut butter on the other slice and put them together and enjoy!
I had to scrape the bottom of all my barrels to pull this one off. At first I thought I had a lot more frozen strawberries that were saved from decomposition when I couldn't get around to eating them fast enough. Strawberries have to be the number one fruit included in our weekly delivery of fruits and vegetables from SLO Veg. I think they are always in season around here. Crazy, right? I know, coastal California living is rough.

Anyway, I just had one gallon baggie in the freezer, and it wasn't that full. Good, I guess, that means somebody has been making smoothies! but I had to also use my two baskets of fresh berries, meaning I won't have any for Sunday's dessert, unless I ***cough-cough*** buy more, from the store, or maybe a berry stand. Yeah, that's it. I will go check out strawberries from San Luis Berry Farm. If I can't buy them right from the field, then they sell them at New Frontier's Natural Marketplace.

It looks like jam!
Anyway, not only did I have to scrape together enough strawberries to feed my P&J fetish, but I had to find all sources of sugar to make the six cups...four and a half-ish from the canister and another cup-ish from the sugar dispenser that I keep on the counter. I might have been a half cup short or so, but it will work. I am not sure if I had a full four cups of fruit, because I totally eyeballed it. I know they tell you not to use less sugar than called for, but it will be fine...I promise! I am now officially out of granulated sugar.

I put six half-pint canning jars in the dishwasher and set it to rinse and dry. That would be sufficient to sterilze the jars. I could take them out, piping hot, just before filling them with newly minted jam. I got out my Ball Canning Blue Book and checked out the strawberry jam recipe. Five cups berries, seven cups sugar...hmmmm...not quite gonna make it. Then just below that one, there was a recipe for Strawberry Lemon Marmalade. Four cups crushed strawberries, six cups sugar...and I had fresh lemons! Score!!!

Slicing and dicing the lemon
So I set about defrosting the frozen strawberries, cleaning and trimming the green tops off the fresh strawberries, and mashing them all together. I added the juice of the one lemon that I had just peeled and turned on the heat. I added a tablespoon full of butter and six tablespoons of pectin. I am now officially out of pectin, as well. I let that come to a rolling boil, keeping it going for a good five minutes just to be sure. Then I stirred in the sugar and brought it back to a boil. The recipe says to boil for one minute. I always boil for about five minutes, just to be sure its hot enough and all. Then I fill my jars and process them in a boiling water bath. I like that method best. As I am typing this blog, I can hear my lids popping as they are cooling on the kitchen counter. That is music to a canner's ears!

I had five half-pint jars with screw-top lids, and one half-pint jar that used to have mustard in it. That one has a plastic snap-on lid and would be going into the frig because I plan on eating the jam very, very soon. I ended up with about a quarter-cup extra jam that didn't fit into any of the jars, so I poured it into a cereal bowl to cool. It was going on to my P&J sandwich...all of it!

Recipe from Ball:
Strawberry Lemon Marmalade

Boiling the fruit
4 C crushed strawberries
1/4 C thinly sliced lemon peel
1 Tbsp lemon juice
6 C sugar
6 Tbs pectin
1/2 tsp butter

Hull and crush strawberries one layer at a time, using a potato masher. Combine lemon peel and water to cover. Simmer 5 minutes. Drain and discard liquid. Add peel to prepared strawberries.
Combine prepared fruit with lemon juice in a 6 or 8 quart saucepan. Gradually stir in 6 Tbs. Ball Original Fruit Pectin. Add up to 1/2 tsp butter to reduce foaming, if desired.Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly. Add entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Boil hard one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Makes 6 half pints. 

Its a messy, sticky job, but somebody's got to do it. Oh darn, some didn't fit into the jars...guess I will have to eat it!

Maybe I am a little weird, but I actually like making small batches of jam much more than processing a few lugs of fruit all at once. I used to think that was the way to do it, go berry-picking and bring it all home and wash it all up and make cases of other words, wear yourself out!
But after recently making jam from just a few baskets of strawberries or a dozen apricots or so, I think that is the way to go. It only takes a short while and I can do a lot more variety this way. Right now I have apricot-cinnamon jam, raspberry-nectarine jam and strawberry-lemon marmalade in my pantry, all homemade right here in my tiny kitchen. I think that is sufficient for the time being. But I still want a nap!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Kitchen Sink" Chicken and Rice Casserole

Cheesy baked deliciousness!

I made a "Kitchen Sink" Chicken and Rice casserole for tonight using some of the vegetables that I have had in the frig for a week or so. I used this recipe from Food Network for inspiration, but of course, I didn't follow it EXACTLY! But we got our new box of fruits and vegies today, and I still had some stuff in the frig that I didn't want to bury any deeper. I had trimmed up some carrots and celery in sticks for snacking on last week and put them in little baggies in the frig. After a while they sort of look old and unappetizing, although they have not gone bad or I used them in my casserole. A little butter and sauce will make them just perfectly flavored and rich. For this casserole, I diced some carrots, celery, white onion and green bell pepper, all items from my last week's SLO Veg delivery. I saute those with some olive oil and butter and seasoned it with salt and pepper. Then I took out 3 chicken tenders that I had in the freezer and diced those and sauteed them in the same pan.

Food Network's casserole link:

I had previously frozen some brown rice and broccoli when I made too much for dinner one night, knowing it would make a great base for a casserole at a later time. I put the ziplock bag into the microwave for a few minutes to defrost it, then mixed together two cups of vegetable broth and one cup of sour cream with a little bit of fresh thyme from the little plant I had received in the SLO Veg a few weeks ago. I love fresh herbs, and I figure even if my plant only lives for a month or two, I am way ahead of buying a container of fresh herbs from the grocery store, because cost-wise, the plant is about the same as a package and lasts longer. I have been buying basil plants for that purpose, as well. It's $2.99 for a whole plant versus a small package from the produce bins.

All the ingredients went into a mixing bowl: rice, vegetables, chicken bits, sauce mixture and two cups of shredded Mexican cheese blend. When I had it all mixed together, I spooned the casserole mixture into ramekins so that I could bake mine now and take it to work. I sprinkled a little bit more cheese on top to make it look more cheesier...because more is better than less! Later, my husband and son could heat their dinner up and it would be bubbly and warm and fresher tasting!
 Now I have all these vegetables and fruits to cook and eat for the coming week! I can't wait for Sunday dinner when my grown-up girls come over for dinner. I think I will use the tri-colored green beans that are pictured below, right under the coffee carafe, because they look so fancy. Green beans roasted in the oven, sprinkled with coarse salt and bacon bits...yum! I can hardly wait. Should I have chicken, fish, beef or pork chops? Maybe I will let Lee decide that one. Corn bread could also make an appearance here...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Freezing fruits and vegies

We got a beautiful box of vegetables and fruit last week from SLO Veg. The only problem was we were getting ready to go out of town, so I had to do something with all of them, quick! I have put a vacation hold on the delivery before and found it can be confusing, so I just decided I would freeze this weeks stuff. I figured the fruit, the corn and the tomatoes would be okay through the weekend. I can cook them next week. If the tomatoes start to mush, I will make a sauce with them. The peppers and chilies will be fine to freeze just as they are, in a ziplock.

Some people just freeze fruits and vegies without treating them. I do that a lot. But I wanted to see how they turned out if I blanched them first. I boiled a pot of water in my big spaghetti pot with the strainer insert. First I cut the zucchini and squash into large, 1-1/2 to 2 inch pieces. I blanched them in the hot water for 2 minutes, drained them and put into a bowl of cold water. Then I did some carrots, green beans, snap peas, and last some broccoli. Actually, last I did some eggplant, because it was an afterthought. You cook Eggplant Parmigiana twice, right? I bagged it in ziplock bags (no, I still do not have a food saver!), some separately labeled "zucchini", "squash", etc, and then I did an "Italian blend" of zucchini, squash, onion, and green beans. This will all be great when I go back to day shift and get home on my long days at 7 p.m.ish.

I layed the washed and trimmed strawberries on a cookie sheet and "flash froze" them for 30 minutes. That way they don't stick together in the baggies, and I can grab out a handful for a smoothie whenever I need some. I also made pesto with the lovely bunch of basil we got, adding some garlic, walnuts, red wine vinegar and olive oil, plus salt and pepper. I put it into little prep bowls to freeze, then later popped them out of the bowls and transferred the pesto dabs into a ziplock baggie. Now when I make pasta, I can melt in a dab of pesto that will be perfect to serve 3-4 people. I am so on it!!! Now I have vegetable blends for Asian (from a previous freezing session) or Italian dishes in my freezer, ready to go, and its still all organic, farm raised produce!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Picnic Coleslaw

We are taking a road trip this weekend, and I thought it would be nice to pack a picnic lunch. Maybe some fried chicken, potato salad or coleslaw...hmmm. I was watching Pioneer Woman this morning and got the inspiration to make a red coleslaw, because I still had a head of red cabbage that I got in my SLO Veg basket last week. She made her's with red and green cabbage, but I only had the red cabbage on hand. I had everything else, though, including shredded carrots and green bell peppers. So I began by slicing the cabbage into thin ribbons and dicing the bell peppers and onions. Then I opened the baggie of pre-shredded carrots and dumped them into the bowl. That was easy!

I whipped up some mayonnaise and milk, added in some white vinegar and sugar, and just a little bit of salt. The mixture looked a little too thin, so I added a scoop of sour cream as well. Then I mixed it all together with the sliced and shredded vegetables. I will put some into a container to take on our picnic, and leave the rest in a bowl for a another meal. I am going to go out and buy some fried chicken. I am pooped.


1 head red or green cabbage, or both!, sliced thin
1/2 red onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1 cup shredded carrots

1/2 C milk
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/2 C sour cream
2 Tbs white vinegar
1/4 C granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of black pepper

Prepared vegetables for slaw and combine in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, mix ingredients for dressing and combine well. Stir into slaw mix and refrigerator until serving time.

Raspberry-Nectarine Jam

I saw a Facebook post by Ball Canning products featuring a Peach and Raspberry Jam that looked so good. Of course, they are advertising their new freezer jam automatic cooker, but I think making jam is so easy, I don't really need another contraption to store. I like making my jam on the stove and boiling the filled jars in a hot bath. Then, when I take them out and hear the lids pop, indicating a nice, tight seal, I am happy. I can store the jars at room temperature and they are perfect to give as gifts any time. Giving freezer jam as a gift would get a little messy, I am thinking. 

Anyway, I had actually used up all my peaches in a cobbler, but I did have six nice, ripe nectarines from our SLO Veg delivery, as well as two baskets of beautiful ripe raspberries. The Ball recipe called for one basket of berries, so that is great--one left for us to eat! Six nectarines should dice up to about four cups of fruit, plus the raspberries will make five cups.

The jam was just a little runny because it was still hot, but I couldn't wait to taste it on some toast, so here it is!    
I think I followed this recipe better than I had before in my previous jam-making attempts. They all turned out fine, but I don't think I went about it in textbook fashion. This time I cooked the fruit down with the pectin and lemon juice, letting that come to a rolling boil. Then I added in the sugar and brought it back to a boil for a short time, just a couple of minutes. My last batch boiled forever...I could have made fruit leather out of it.I also added some cinnamon flavor to the mix by adding a cinnamon stick to the boiling mixture for a little extra spark. I learned that tip at work when discussing canning and jam-making with some coworkers.

Here is the link for the Ball recipes from Valerie's Kitchen:

Chicken Noodle and Rice Vegetable Soup

I watched Trisha Yearwood make a lovely chicken soup on her Southern Kitchen show this morning, and I thought, hey, I have one leftover chicken breast in the refrigerator. I could probably make just enough soup for Lee and myself for tonight's dinner. Trisha was cooking it on a rainy day, but since I live on the coast where it is foggy all summer long, soup feels just right.  I am gonna go for it!

I began by slicing up one rib of celery and two carrots. I have to mention that these carrots that came in our SLO Veg box are so crisp and flavorful. You know how sometimes you get carrots and they almost have a bitter taste? Not these. They are almost as good as candy.  The chicken breast had been roasted with lemon and rosemary, so it was flavorful throughout. I broke up a handful of spaghetti and tossed it into the soup pot, along with some leftover white rice.  I felt good about the soup because I was able to utilize leftovers and make a new dish out of them.
I decided to use a sprig of fresh thyme from the little potted herb that came in our vegie box this week. Fresh herbs are the best! I still had enough fresh parsley on hand to make this soup work, as well. I seasoned the soup with chicken boullion, a little more salt and some black pepper. Usually chicken boullion adds enough salt, but this was a powdered organic chicken bouillon powder that I got at New Frontiers, and I don't think it has any salt in it...none that I can taste, anyway. This little pot of soup actually made enough so I can have some now, and still have enough for our dinner tonight. Perfect!

I should note that Trisha's soup also called for red potatoes, which I didn't have any of on hand, and she topped it with processed cheese. Umm, pass. It would be great with a big ol' dumpling or something on top, though. Hmmmm....

Trisha's Southern Kitchen:

Fish with Fruit Salsa

Making some fish tacos tonight! We received some lovely Pacific Grenedier in our weekly delivery from SLO Veg. They have a co-op thing going with SLO Fresh Catch, so we also get a pound of fresh-caught ocean fish from local fishermen delivered with our vegies and fruits each week. Since we got more peaches and some nice green "Pitron" spicy peppers in the box, I decided to make this version of Pacific Grenadier with Fruit Salsa from the website. I never heard of Pitron peppers before, however, I can tell you they are spicy! Glad I roasted them a bit first. We are gonna need that beer tonight!

I rounded out the dinner with corn tortilla chips, roasted broccoli and yellow squash, and black beans straight out of a can. The broccoli and squash was simply drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with coarse sea salt, and roasted in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes. I love roasting vegies, because it brings out a whole new flavor diminsion and makes them so scrumptious!

I borrowed the recipe from SLO Fresh Catch and decided to make some tacos out of it. Tacos, chips  and beer...we ought to be able to eat a lot of fruit salsa that way. 

I burned the outer skin of the pepper right on my gas stove top. I turned the flame up high and kept turning the pepper with tongs. Blackened that puppy all the way around and then scrapped off as much of the burnt stuff as I could before chopping the pepper into small bits.

Here is Captain Le's recipe:

Blackened Grenadier with Fruit Salsa (serves four)
Blackening Rub ( or use your favorite one from the grocery store)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or other                                                                           flavorless oil
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine a paste.
Fruit  Salsa:
  • 1 mango, or peach or nectarine peeled, pitted and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced red onion
  • 1/8 cup diced red or green bell pepper
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • pinch of salt…or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro; chopped
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Can be made a few hours ahead. Taste just before serving and adjust seasoning as needed.
Blackened Grenadier:
  • 1 lb. fresh fish, cut into 4 servings
Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
To prepare the fish, start by wiping the flesh with a dry paper towel to remove any excess moisture.
Rub the blackening paste on one side of the fish.
Pour a small amount of vegetable oil into a large saute pan and heat over medium-high heat. When pan is nice and hot, carefully place fish into preheated pan. Sear on both sides for 2-3 minutes each side. Remove fish from pan and place onto a cookie sheet lined with tinfoil. Place pan into preheated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cod is cooked through.
 Remove pan from oven and place fish on top of steamed rice or whatever you’re serving. Top fish with salsa, a lime wedge and extra cilantro.

Fish Taco with Fruit Salsa, black beans and roasted broccoli and yellow squash on the side.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Today's harvest basket

Looks like raspberries, lettuce blend, grapes, beets, celery yellow squash, green peppers, tomatoes pluots, nectarines an onion and a shallot, broccoli, and a thyme plant.

Fruit, Vegetable, Herb, and Juice List for 08/05/2013 - 08/09/2013  

Red Beets, Celery, "Pitron" Spicy Peppers, Broccoli Crowns, Red/White Onions, Spring Mix, Yellow Squash, Vine Ripened Tomatoes, Living Herb Potted Plant ~ Oregano, Thyme, or Chives, "Dolly" Plums, Yellow Peaches, "Red Flame" Grapes, and Red Raspberries 

Fresh Grated Beet Salad with Apples, Carrots, and Mint; Roasted Beet Salad with Oranges and Beet Greens; Creamy Celery Soup; Cucumber and Celery Salad; Baked Onions with Thyme; Mexicali Shrimp; Pot Roast with Caramelized Onions and Roasted Carrots; Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Vegetables; Chilled Thai Squash Soup with Yogurt and Cilantro; Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts; Roasted Broccoli and Feta Salad; Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Lemon Curd and Fresh Raspberries; Ricotta with Honey and Raspberries; Fresh Peach Chutney; Peach Fruit Salsa; Savory Peach Chicken; Focaccia with Rosemary and Grapes; Grape Chutney

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

Monday, August 5, 2013

Potluck Broccoli Salad

Broccoli salad. For a few years, this was my very favorite potluck dish. Every potluck seemed to have one of these, and there was never enough. Sometimes it has raisins, sometimes dried cranberries, sometimes crushed ramen noodles with the Oriental seasoning packet mixed into the dressing. Usually it has a sweet mayonnaise vinegar dressing, or sometimes a vinegar-oil oriental one. One thing all the versions have to have is bacon! Today, I knew it would be the perfect accompaniment to the roasted lemon-pepper chicken I was making for our Sunday family dinner.
Both my daughters commented that they had not had the broccoli salad for a long time. Probably because they are about 10 years out of the sports circuit and haven't had any team potlucks to attend. I learned how to make this salad from a recipe in my girls' softball recipe book they had compiled one year for a fundraiser. 

We received the nicest, crisp green broccoli in our SLO Veg box this week that would be fabulous for this salad. The heads were still young, not over-bloomed, and so very tender for the light blanching required here. I have made this salad before with completely raw broccoli, but I think I prefer the three-minute blanching which brings out more flavor and allows the dressing to be absorbed better into the vegetables.

Broccoli is diced, then blanced in boiling water for 3 minutes. Plunge immediately into chilled water.

The salad ingredients include broccoli, raisins or dried cranberries, red onions and green onions, sunflower seeds and bacon. I like to use roasted, salted sunflower seeds, the kind you snack on, in this salad simply for the salt and the crunch. The seeds and the bacon give a perfect amount of saltiness and savoryness to balance out the sweet dressing and make this dish a potluck favorite. It's always the first dish to go!

Onions and raisins are added into the broccoli, then the salad is dressed about 2 hours before serving. Just before serving, toss in the sunflower seeds and crumbled bacon and watch it all disappear.
I started out with a simple dressing of 1 cup mayonnaise, 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons of white vinegar. Then I had to mess with it some. I rhought it was too sweet, so I added 1 couple of tablespoons of sour cream and a splash of lemon juice. I also had some poppy seeds, and since this is pretty much the base for a poppy seed dressing, I added a couple of teaspoons full of those. I had some raisins on hand, the kind that come in a little snack box. Three of those boxes proved to be the perfect amount, about 1 cup. I cooked four slices of bacon on paper towels in the microwave and then hid them in the frig where Taylor and Lee wouldn't find them. I wanted to make sure I had them two hours later to crumble into the salad, not provide them with a pre-dinner snack! The bacon and sunflower seeds are mixed into the salad just before serving.

I served dinner with roasted lemon-rosemary chicken breasts that were so fantastic. I just plucked two big bunches of rosemary from my outdoor plant and rinsed it off, then laid in in the roasting pan. I quartered an onion and two lemons, squeezing the juice over the chicken. I had 6 bone-in chicken breasts for 8 people. Then I drizzled on some olive oil, seasoned it with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper and let the chicken roast in a 350 oven for an hour and 15 minutes. Each breast was really large, so I halved them and served them on a platter. It was all so fragrant that I forgot all about taking a picture. But everyone ate it up!



1 C mayonnaise
1/3 C granulated sugar
3 Tbs white vinegar
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 C sour cream
2 Tbs poppy seeds

5 C fresh broccoli, blanched for 3 minutes
1 C red onion, diced
3 green onions, diced
1 C raisins or dried cranberries
1 C sunflower seeds, roasted and salted
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Here are two variations on Broccoli Salad recipes: Trisha Yearwood has a recipe on her site, and there is another one of SLO Veg. Sometimes you just have to search for one that suits your tastebuds and calls for ingredients you have in your pantry.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Really Puckery Strawberry Margaritas

Really puckery strawberry margaritas! That's what we got tonight using strawberries I had previously frozen from my SLO Veg delivery. They look pretty, though. I referred to this recipe from Food Network, but of course I had to substitute things, like the lime juice. I didn't have any limes, and I didn't have any lime juice. I did, however, have lemon juice. In hindsight, I wish I hadn't used so much...I think it was like a half cup of lemon juice. Pretty close on everything else, though. Maybe I should have used a few more strawberries. I ended up needing way more sweetener, so I added about a quarter cup of sugar. Not simple syrup, sugar. I had to fix it. Also, I dipped the glasses in margarita salt, not sugar. I guess it was salvageable...we drank the whole darn blender pitcher full. Good night!

Puree 3 cups strawberries, 1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur, 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, 3/4 cup tequila (preferably anejo), 2 tablespoons honey and a pinch of salt in a blender. Add 3 cups ice and blend until smooth. Divide among 4 stemmed glasses; garnish with strawberries dipped in sugar.


Cheesy rice with yellow squash and green beans

I guess I am into comfort foods this week. I wanted to make a rice au gratin-style casserole and ended up using Cream of Mushroom soup, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. I tossed in some yellow squash and green beans for good measure...and some soy sauce, because that's what you put in a green bean casserole. I almost sprinkled it with french fried onions, but I decided I will save those for when the family comes over for's more like a company thing. Tonight its just me and the hub, so I can keep it simple. Geez, did I just make a whole 9x9 casserole of rice? I guess that's what Lee is taking for lunch tomorrow...

This all started because I had some leftover brown rice to use up, and some yellow squash from my SLO Veg box from last week. I guess I just didn't make enough food last week and I am lagging. So I mixed up the rice, added some diced squash and some leftover green beans, and then said, "What's going to make up the sauce?" I grabbed a can of soup, some sour cream, and the shredded cheese. I sprinkled in some Italian seasoning and stirred it all up in a saucepan so that all the cheese melted and the sour cream blended into the sauce. There! Creamy, cheesy, gooey deliciousness. That always works in my house. I put it into the oven to heat it for 30 minutes until it is bubbly.

I baked some fish in lettuce leaves, too, but it's not one of my success stories. I will have to work on the fish thing.

Cheesy Rice Casserole

2 C cooked rice
1 Tbs butter
3 small yellow squashes, diced
1 C green beans, canned, freshly cooked or leftover
1 green onion, chopped
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 milk
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 C shredded cheddar cheese, or a cheese blend
Melt the butter in a saucepan and saute the vegetables for a couple of minutes. Add the rice, soup, milk, soy sauce and sour cream and stir until it makes a nice sauce. Add the shredded cheese and combine until it is all melted. Top with more cheese (and bread crumbs, crackers or fried onion rings, if desired). Pour into a glass casserole dish and bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes until bubbly.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Baked Nectarines with Greek Yogurt and Honey

Baked Nectarines with Honey and Greek Yogurt? I'm down. These recipe from SLO Veg is super easy and so, so good! Of course, I sort of combined the two recipes: I baked nectarine halves sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Then I drizzled the fruit with honey, topped it with yogurt, and drizzled on more honey. I baked the nectarines at the same time as I baked my ramekin full of Chicken Spaghetti. By the time I had eaten my spaghetti dinner, the nectarines had cooled off a bit and I added the Greek yogurt and honey and ate that up too!
This looks really cool when photographed on top of my glass-topped coffee table, huh? 

Baked Nectarines with Greek Yogurt and Honey 

Servings: 4  Level: Easy  Cook Time: 10 Minutes
4 nectarines, pitted and cut into 8ths 
4 tablespoon honey, plus more for drizzling 
1 cup Greek yogurt
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Core the nectarines and cut into 8ths. Take 4 (12-inch) pieces of foil and divide the nectarines in the middle of each foil sheet. Drizzle the nectarines with the honey and fold foil over creating a packet. Place packets on a baking sheet and in the oven for 10 minutes. Once nectarines are soft remove the nectarines from the packet. Serve on a 4 plates and top with 1/4 cup Greek yogurt. Drizzle with honey and serve.


Ricotta Stuffed Oven Roasted Nectarines (Nectarines) 

Servings: 4  Cook Time: 12 Minutes  Level: Easy


1/2 cup orange juice, heated 
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise 
6 nectarines, halved lengthwise and pitted 
2 tablespoons sugar 
3/4 cup skim milk ricotta 
3 tablespoons honey 
Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Directions: Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pour the orange juice into an 8 by 8-inch pan. With the tip of a sharp knife, scrape the insides of the vanilla bean into the pan, reserving the outside pod. Place the nectarines cut side down in the pan. Sprinkle with sugar and lay the vanilla pod on top of the nectarines. Bake until the nectarines are slightly slumped and feel a little soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool in the pan to room temperature, then remove the nectarines from the pan and chill until ready to serve. Reserve any pan juices to pour over the nectarines later. Meanwhile, blend the ricotta with the honey in a food processor until smooth. Chill until ready to serve. To serve, turn the nectarines over and spoon the cheese filling into the cavity. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (if using) and serve immediately. Place 3 on each plate and drizzle the reserved pan juices over the stuffed nectarines.