Monthly Archives: September 2012

Easy Barbecued Apricot Pork Ribs

Easy Barbecued Apricot Pork Ribs

During the summer months Bruce and I fire up the barbecue nearly every weekend.  Chicken, steaks and ribs are the usual fare.  Chicken is my favorite and pork ribs are Bruce’s favorite.  Sometimes, if I feel like it, I’ll make both.  Any leftovers from a Sunday afternoon barbecue makes some of the best lunches during the work week.

Okay, now that I have your attention, (and this is directed to all you “barbecue purists” out there) don’t laugh and don’t turn your nose up at this. Seriously…  I know that the sauce is not made from scratch however, my adaptation of a store bought barbecue sauce makes these ribs taste deliciously easy.  In my opinion, the combination of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce and apricot preserves makes an amazingly tasty sweet and tangy barbecue sauce.  Trust me.  Without a doubt, once you try it, I’m quite sure that you’ll want to make these ribs again.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 racks pork ribs
  • 1 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 cup store bought barbecue sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s but use whatever you prefer)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Wash and trim pork ribs and pat dry. Put ribs on foil lined baking sheet. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper.  Tightly cover ribs with additional foil. Place in oven for 2 hours or until ribs are very tender. Preheat barbecue grill. In a small bowl mix together the apricot preserves and store bought barbecue sauce. Place ribs on medium high barbecue and mop ribs liberally with the sauce. Ribs are done when you get a desired char.  The ribs should only take about 10-15 minutes on the BBQ.  Serves 4 – 6.  Enjoy!



My son went back up to the University for fall term and the final day he was home I made a big pot of Cioppino to share with our family for his send off dinner.  Cioppino is a fish stew that is of Italian American origin and is served at many seafood restaurants up and down the west coast of the United States, particularly in the San Francisco Bay area.  It is a spicy tomato based seafood stew generally prepared with fresh caught dungeness crab, live clams, shrimp, mussels, scallops, fish fillets and plenty of white wine.  Every time I make Cioppino it is never exactly the same as I made it last for I use what ever fresh fish and shellfish that I can find at my local store.

I love to make a vat of Cioppino when our family vacations at the Oregon Coast (talk about fresh seafood!) or when I have a large group of friends stop that by our home.   It’s easy to make and tastes delicious with a fresh picked green salad and crusty french bread.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups chopped fennel bulb
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbs dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 – 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups of seafood stock (I used vegetable stock this time)
  • 1 pound shrimp (cleaned, shelled and deveined)
  • 1 pound fresh clams (scrubbed well)
  • 1 pound fresh scallops
  • 1 pound fish such as halibut or salmon (cut into large chunks)
  • 1 pound cooked dungeness crab legs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Begin by grabbing an extra large dutch oven or pot with a snug lid.  Place on stove, with medium heat add the onions, fennel and olive oil.  Cook until onions become translucent.  Add garlic, bay leaves, oregano, basil, cayenne, wine, tomatoes and stock.  Stir well.  Cover, cook on medium low for about an hour and a half or until flavors marry.   Stir occasionally.  When nearly ready to serve, add fresh seafood and shellfish to the boiling stew, cover and cook for an additional 10-12 minutes or until shrimp is cooked through and the clams open.  Discard bay leaves and any unopened clams.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Ladle into bowls, garnish with sprigs of fresh fennel leaves or fresh chopped parsley.  Makes about 12 – 14 servings.

Roasted Tomato Bisque

Roasted Tomato Bisque

It’s the beginning of fall and I had an obscene amount of fresh picked tomatoes that I had to deal with.  I did not want any of the tasty tomato gems go to waste so I thought it would be a great idea to oven roast a large cookie sheet full of fresh picked heirloom tomatoes.  I wanted to make a roasted tomato bisque and any leftover roasted tomatoes would be tossed into a plastic bag to be placed in the freezer for use in sauces or soups at a later date.

While harvesting some of the final tomatoes of the season, I thought that I would photograph some of the annual flowers and plants that I have growing in my garden before the first frost.  Once the fall frost hits our region, my garden is pretty much out of commission until next spring.  I may plant a few cold weather vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and kale to tie me over but my favorites are always the summer crops of tomatoes, squash, peppers and beans.

Morning Glories…  One of my all time favorite climbing plants.  They are sweet whimsical annual flowers that close up their petals at night or during the heat of the day.  They are fairly easy to grow however, they don’t like to be transplanted.  I plant mine from seed directly in the ground in mid spring.

A Mammoth Sunflower.  These annuals reach upwards of 6 to 8 feet tall!  The birds in my yard, especially the blue jays and finches love eating the seeds.  The blooms are huge and they look striking cut and placed in a large vase.

Dusty Miller…  A strange name for a beautiful plant.  The leaves are silver in color and look gorgeous tucked in amongst the green foliage.  The color of the leaves remind me of the winter season that will be here in just a few short months…

A pint container of fresh picked cherry tomatoes for my neighbor across the street.  I still have bunches more to pick…  The reddish ones are the sweet 100 variety and the orange ones are called sun golds.  Both are prolific plants that supply my family with pounds of delicious fruits.  The sun golds have the sweetest flavor of the two varieties and are my favorite little tomato.

My Roasted Tomato Bisque is a perfect use for those extra heirloom tomatoes you may have in your garden.  It’s simple to make and tastes amazing with a simple grilled cheese sandwich or cheese panini with tomatoes and basil. Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 3 cups roasted tomatoes with juice (see recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt to taste

Begin by grabbing a medium sized pot with a lid.  Over medium heat saute the onion and olive oil until the onions are cooked and translucent.  Add the roasted tomatoes, chicken stock, garlic paste, saffron threads and white pepper.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes.  Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.  Add heavy cream, stir, taste and correct your seasonings and serve.  Makes about 5 one cup servings.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

This is a simple recipe that will yield some flavorful tomatoes for soups, stews and sauces.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Cut tomatoes in half or into large chunks.  Gently squeeze out some of the seeds.  Toss lightly with olive oil, salt, pepper.  I added some sprigs of basil and rosemary for some flavor.  Arrange tomatoes in a single layer on a foil lined cookie sheet (for easy cleanup).  Bake for 45-60 minutes depending on the size or variety of tomatoes.  Cook until the tomatoes start to shrivel and get a bit of color or until your liking.  Remove from oven, let cool, remove basil and rosemary, place in plastic bags and toss in the refrigerator.  Use within a few days.  Can be frozen for later use.  Note: if you don’t like the skins on the tomatoes, just pull the skins off after cooking.  They pop off pretty easily. Enjoy!  Tessa

Nasturtium Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Honey Mustard Dressing

Nasturtium Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Honey Mustard Dressing

There’s only a few days of summer left but my garden still does not seem to know it yet… Before my family woke up this morning I was out watering the plants, trimming flowers and harvesting anything that will fit into my garden basket and bucket.  My bounty this morning was a bucketful of heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, chives, parsley, and nasturtiums.  Even before my first cup of coffee I was thinking about making a salad…

Orange nasturtium blossom.  Nasturtiums are edible flowers that have a wonderful peppery flavor.  You can even eat the leaves too!

Nasturtium leaf.  The leaves are circular shaped with the stalk near the center of the leaf.  Some of my nasturtium leaves are green, some are variegated.  I grow my nasturtiums from seed in the spring and plant them where ever I can fit them in my garden.  Some are tucked under tomato plants and some are in pots.  They are easy to grow and add lovely color to your yard and garden.  Not to mention they taste great in salads!

Fresh picked heirloom tomatoes.  Green Zebras, Caspian Pinks, Indigo Rose, Sweet 100’s, Chocolate Cherries, Medford Ace, and Yellow Pears.  I walked away with a gallon size bucket filled to the top…  I’m going to roast some of the larger ones later for a delicious roasted tomato sauce.

My Nasturtium and Heirloom Tomato Salad is made with fresh picked nasturtiums, basil, chives, curled parsley, crunchy green leaf lettuce and a variety of heirloom tomatoes.  I then drizzle the salad with a tangy homemade honey mustard dressing.  It’s flavorful, fresh and delicious.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 4 cups green leaf lettuce (washed and torn into bite sized pieces)
  • handful of nasturtium blossoms
  • handful of nasturtium leaves (pick the smaller ones)
  • handful of basil leaves
  • handful of curled parsley (coarsely chopped)
  • a few stems of chives (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 cup or 2 of small heirloom tomatoes
  • honey mustard dressing to taste (see recipe below)

Assemble all of your ingredients on 4 salad plates.  Drizzle with honey mustard dressing.

Honey Mustard Dressing

Whisk together in a small bowl the following ingredients.  Refrigerate immediately.  Keeps for about a week.  Makes about a cup.

  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 5 Tbs honey
  • 4 Tbs stone ground mustard
  • 2 Tbs prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 Tbs white balsamic vinegar

Thai Tofu Tacos

Thai Tofu Tacos

A few months ago I offered to write a guest post for “Choc Chip Uru” at a website called GoBakeYourself.  I was thrilled when she accepted because Choc Chip Uru is a wonderfully talented young food blogger from Australia who loves to bake and make some insanely delicious desserts!

I asked Uru what she would like me to prepare for her and she suggested that I make something savory vegetarian.  In my opinion, I’m not much of an accomplished dessert maker, so the first thing that came to mind was Thai Tofu Tacos.   My Thai Tofu tacos are quick and easy to make and perfect for a busy weekday dinner.  They are vibrant in color, crunchy in texture and judging from their taste, you would not know that they are actually good for you!

Many thanks to Uru for allowing me to be do a guest post on her site!   Her enthusiasm for food, baking and desserts is simply a joy to behold. I enjoy subscribing to her site, reading her comments and most of all, her delicious recipes.  Thank you Uru!  Those who have not met Uru yet, please stop by her site, say hello and most of all, subscribe to her website.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • Big pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried ginger
  • 1 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Few drops of sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 small tortillas (warmed)
  • 8 lime wedges
  • Sriracha chili sauce for drizzling (optional, it’s spicy!)
  • Chopped peanuts for garnish (optional)

Begin by draining the tofu and placing it between some paper towels for about 15 minutes to pull out some of the moisture.  Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch or 1 cm pieces.  Meanwhile, whisk together in a bowl, peanut butter, water, garlic paste, ginger, soy sauce, lime juice and sesame oil.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Add water if you need to.  This is the sauce for the tofu.  Set aside.

Shred the carrots.

Thinly slice your cabbage.

Chop the cilantro.

Slice the limes into wedges.

Grab a medium sized bowl and mix together carrots, cabbage cilantro, and green onions.  Add lime juice and a few drops of sesame oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Lightly toss.  This is the topping for the soft tacos.  Set aside.

Place a nonstick skillet on the stove and heat to medium high heat.  Add canola oil.  Add tofu and cook until it’s a light golden color.  Add sauce to tofu.  Cook for about a minute or two or until heated through.  You’ll notice that it thickens up real quick.  Remove from heat.

Divide tofu mixture between 8 warm tortillas.  Add the cabbage and carrot mixture, fold in half, drizzle with the optional Sriracha sauce and sprinkle with peanuts and serve with a lime wedge.  Makes 8 vegetarian Thai Tofu Tacos.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Peach Pie

Peach Pie

As I was poking around the produce section of my favorite cooperative, I spied some gorgeous local peaches.  Not only were they pretty, they gave off an amazingly wonderful sweet peachy aroma…  I could not pass them up and so I gently place 3 pounds in my grocery basket.  I knew exactly what I was going to do with them when I got home.  I was going to make a Peach Pie!

See?  These peaches were gorgeous!  Makes one 9″ pie.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 3 pounds peaches (peeled, pitted and sliced)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • milk
  • 2 – 9″ unbaked pie crust pastries (I used store bought)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Roll out your pastry and line the bottom of a pie plate.  In a large bowl toss together the peaches, sugar, flour, lemon juice, zest and cinnamon.  Add peach mixture to pie crust.  Add top crust.  You can get all fancy and make a lattice crust like I did or just add a top crust with slits in it so the pie can vent while cooking.  Crimp edges of the pie.  (I used the backside of a fork to crimp the edges of the pie)

To make a lattice crust see this tutorial.  I must point out that my pie crust did not turn out as pretty as the tutorial.  Meh…  Maybe next time…

Brush the top of pie crust with a bit of milk and bake 45-50 minutes or until the pie is golden brown.  Remove pie from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  Serve Peach Pie warm or cold.  A scoop of vanilla ice cream is a perfect addition to a slice of this pie!

Tomato Salad

Tomato Salad

My son and I were at a local bookstore the other day and those who know me know that I can never leave a bookstore empty handed.  My new prize for the day was “Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking”.  First of all, I must say that book is a complete winner.  Lovely photos, easy to follow instructions.  Cool cookbook.  Second of all, as I was flipping through the pages, his recipe for a Tomato Salad caught my eye.  I had a bunch of heirloom “Caspian Pink” tomatoes from my garden that I needed to deal with and that recipe sounded like it would be a good one.  Color me wrong…  After it was all said and done, Bourdain’s recipe for the Tomato Salad was not just a good one.  It was simply outstanding!

This “slightly adapted” Tomato Salad recipe is a simple yet flavorful mixture of sliced and seeded heirloom tomatoes, thin slivers of red onion, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, salt and pepper.  If you have some heirloom tomatoes, be sure to give this recipe a shot.  It’s easy and delicious!  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 pounds fresh heirloom tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 small to medium sized red onion
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar (I used the dark, not the white)
  • fresh basil leaves for garnish

Wash, core and cut the heirloom tomatoes into wedges.  Place wedges into a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp coarse salt and 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper.  Let tomatoes sit for 1/2 hour.  (I tossed mine in the fridge, I like my salads on the cool side)

Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice the red onion and place in another colander.  Sprinkle on the additional 1/2 tsp of salt and let the onions sit for 1/2 hour also (I stuck them in the fridge too).

When the 1/2 hour is up, lightly brush off the salt and pepper from the tomatoes and give each tomato wedge a light squeeze to remove the seeds.  Toss seeds away.  Add tomatoes to a bowl.  Using your clean hands lightly squeeze the moisture out of the onions.  Add onions to tomatoes.  In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic paste, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  Add the dressing to tomato and onion mixture.  Lightly toss, taste and correct your seasonings.  Garnish with basil leaves, and serve.  Makes 4 servings.

Guava Glazed Rainbow Carrots

Guava Glazed Rainbow Carrots

It’s late summer in Southern Oregon…  The morning air is brisk and the foliage is almost ready to turn into autumn’s vibrant colors.  The pear harvest here in the Rogue Valley is now in full swing and the farmers markets are filled with local produce such as pears, tomatoes, corn and melons.  It won’t be long until pumpkins and winter squash fill the produce bins.

I found these Rainbow Carrots this morning at a local farmer’s market.  Orange, purple and yellow.  I could not pass them up…  What beautiful colors!  Even better, they’re organic too!

When preparing the carrots be sure to slice them into uniformly thick pieces.  The reason is that they will cook consistently and near the same rate.  My Guava Glazed Rainbow Carrots are similar in flavor to traditional glazed carrots but with a lovely sweet guava flavor.  This colorful side dish takes about 20 minutes to make and tastes great with roasted chicken, grilled chops or a juicy steak.  If you can’t find rainbow carrots feel free to use the usual orange carrots.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • One pound carrots peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1/3 cup guava jelly
  • dash salt (or to taste)
  • pinch of white pepper (or to taste)

In a saucepan heat the water until boiling.  Add 1/2 tsp salt and carrot slices.  Cook for 5 minutes or until desired tenderness.  Drain carrots.  Place back on the stove.  Add butter, guava jelly, salt and pepper.  Cook until guava jelly has melted and the carrots are glazed.  Remove from heat, place in serving dish and serve.  Makes 4 servings.