Tag Archives: oregon food blog

Christmas Lima Bean and Chicken Soup

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChristmas Lima Bean and Chicken Soup

I love to make homemade soup during the cold winter months here in Southern Oregon. Several weeks ago I received a bag of dried Christmas Lima Beans as a gift from my uncle and aunt.  I’ve never seen or heard of Christmas Lima Beans before, so naturally, I was really excited to try them.  Christmas Lima Beans are an heirloom variety of Lima Beans that have a lovely white and rust speckled color.  I was surprised to see that they are larger than the traditional white Lima beans that I know and love.  They hold their shape nicely and they darken in color slightly when cooked.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I had no idea how uncommon these big beautiful beans were. I’ve never seen this variety of legume locally in Southern Oregon and after doing some research, I found that I can purchase them online from a grower in the Southern California area. The fact that they are a heirloom variety and non GMO make them complete winners in my book.  One day, when Bruce and I have adequate garden space, I will be planting a few long rows of these amazingly delicious beans. 

My Christmas Lima Bean and Chicken Soup is really easy to make.  It’s hearty, healthy and most of all delicious!  Feel free to substitute the common white Lima beans if you don’t have access to the Christmas Lima beans. Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Christmas Lima Beans (soaked in water overnight, picked over and rinsed well)
  • 2 cups chopped leeks
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 pound cooked chopped chicken (I used boneless skinless chicken thighs)
  • 1 1/2 qt chicken stock (or more as desired)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 – 2 tsp garlic paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place a heavy bottomed pot on medium high heat add leeks, onion, celery and  carrots.  Cook until onions are opaque, taking care not to burn.  Turn down to medium low heat, add the Christmas Lima Beans, 1 1/2 quarts of chicken stock, thyme, coriander, garlic paste and pepper. Cover and cook with a gentle simmer for a about an hour.  Add cooked chicken and salt to taste towards the end of the cooking process.  Cook until beans are tender.  Taste and correct your seasonings. Makes about 8 servings.

Smoked Steelhead Chowder

SmokedSteelheadChowder1024

I’ve said it before and I can’t help but say it again.  I love living in the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon.  And, if you have a few minutes, I’ll give you three reasons why.  First of all, it’s a beautiful place. There are mountains, lakes, and rivers just minutes away.  Second, it’s not crowded like large metropolitan cities such as Portland or Seattle.  You can drive 20 minutes in any direction and end up somewhere in the beautiful Southern Oregon countryside.  Third, I think that it has the best of both worlds.  There’s plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing and camping and also there’s the nearby Oregon Shakespeare Festival, dozens of vineyards and microbreweries, and a number of wonderful restaurants that feature spectacular local ingredients.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Rogue River in Southern Oregon

I always love visiting the Rogue River.  Whether it be for hiking along the banks, rafting or my favorite river activity, fishing.  One day on my lunch hour, I briefly stopped by the Rogue River near Touvelle State Park and decided to snap a few photos.  It was a bit overcast that afternoon but the temperature was nearly perfect.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Looking down at the river from the top of the bridge, it’s easy to imagine large fish swimming in the cold deep water below the surface.  And, if you are lucky, you might even see one!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA fly fisherman on the Rogue River

Many types of fish inhabit the Rogue River.  There’s steelhead trout, Chinook salmon, rainbow trout, green sturgeon, coho salmon, and so many more species of fish.  My two favorites are steelhead trout and Chinook salmon.  I prepare those varieties of fish quite often for my family.  As a matter of fact, I serve fish for my family at least once a week.  When selecting fish, I prefer to prepare wild caught fish as opposed to farm raised fish.  In my opinion, the flavor is better, there are no chemicals or additives, no color enhancements or antibiotics.  If given a choice between wild and farm raised fish, the decision is easy.  Wild caught fish is your best bet.

SmokedSteelheadChowder1024(2)

My Smoked Steelhead Chowder is a deliciously creamy soup made with smoky bacon, roasted russet potatoes, tender onion, fresh  thyme and a splash of heavy cream.  It’s prepared similarly to a  New England style clam chowder but with smoked tender steelhead instead.  It’s great with a slice of warm crusty bread, a crispy green salad or a hot grilled sandwich.  If you are not able to obtain smoked steelhead where you live, feel free to substitute the smoked steelhead with some good quality smoked salmon instead.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound Smoked Steelhead Trout (skin and bones removed, chopped coarsely)
  • 5 cups Milk
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tbs. Butter
  • 1/3 cup Flour
  • 2 Tbs. Tomato paste
  • 1 pound Russet Potatoes – peeled and diced
  • 1 large White Onion – peeled and diced
  • 4 oz. Bacon – chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh Thyme
  • 1 – 2 tsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Seasoning Salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper (or to taste)
  • fresh minced Parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  On a sheet tray or baking pan toss together diced potatoes, diced onions, 1 to 2 tsp. olive oil and seasoning salt.  Arrange potatoes and onions in a single layer to ensure even cooking.  Bake until the potatoes and onions begin to turn golden brown or about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, grab a large heavy pot and place it on the stove.  Turn burner to medium high heat.  Add chopped bacon and cook until the bacon is crispy.  Remove bacon with slotted spoon and set aside.  Turn down heat to low, add 2 Tbs. butter and 1/3 cup flour to the remaining bacon fat to make a blonde roux.  Whisk flour mixture constantly, taking care not to burn, and cook until a very light golden brown.  Whisk 5 cups milk and 2 Tbs. tomato paste and cook until almost ready to boil, whisking constantly.  Add smoked steelhead, bacon, potatoes, onions, 1 tsp. fresh thyme, 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning.  Cook, stirring often, until the mixture has thickened and the flour taste has disappeared, for about 1/2  hour.  Add heavy cream, taste and correct your seasonings. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped smoked steelhead trout and fresh minced parsley.  Makes about 2 quarts or 8 servings.

Blood Orange Vinaigrette

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I just have to tell you that I have a new favorite fruit.  It’s called a Blood Orange. The name sounds a bit gory but trust me, this amazing citrus fruit is far from it… Just close your eyes and get past the name.  Blood Oranges can be a bit smaller in size than a regular orange and bigger than a tangerine.  When sliced, they have a gorgeous orange to bright crimson center and they have an outer skin that can be somewhat difficult to peel.  Blood Oranges are sweet, juicy and perfect for making a simple Blood Orange Vinaigrette.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What beautiful fruit!  As you can see, Blood Oranges are aptly named.  Be mindful when handling the oranges, they can stain your clothes and cutting boards.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Making the Blood Orange Vinaigrette is easy.  Add all the ingredients to a glass jar, tighten the lid and then give it a good shake to blend all the flavors.  Drizzle the Blood Orange Vinaigrette over a plate of fresh greens and Blood Orange segments for a wonderful Blood Orange Salad. Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup blood orange juice
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs shallots (finely minced)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp blood orange zest
  • 3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper (or to taste)

Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid.  Shake well to combine all ingredients. Taste and correct your seasonings.  Store in the refrigerator tightly covered for up to 4 days.  Makes about a cup.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Whole Grain Mustard

WholeGrainMustardFeralKitchenWhole Grain Mustard

Do you know that making your own mustard is ridiculously easy? Up until just a few months ago, I had absolutely no idea. I recently learned after reading a newspaper article in the Medford Mail Tribune by Jan Roberts-Dominguez titled an Advanced Lesson in Homemade Mustards. Growing up, the only mustard that could be found in our home kitchen was the bright yellow mustard sold in a jar made by French’s.  No offense to all you yellow mustard lovers but the mustard that I knew as a kid pales in comparison to the taste bud tingling spicy goodness that I am about to share with you.  And what makes my Whole Grain Mustard shine is the addition of a really tasty beer such as Southern Oregon Brewing Company‘s Nice Rack IPA.

A good homemade Whole Grain Mustard takes about 15 minutes of your time to prepare and then needs to sit around untouched for at least 48 hours to develop its wonderfully warm spicy flavors. When your mustard is ready, be sure to serve your homemade Whole Grain Mustard on sandwiches, sausages, pretzels or even use it as a base for sauces or salad dressings.  My favorite way to serve my homemade Whole Grain Mustard is to accompany it alongside some grilled brats and pints of some of Southern Oregon’s finest micro brewed beer. Now that’s pure bliss!

What’s great about making your own mustard is that the flavor combinations are endless and you can make it as hot, creamy, spicy or as sweet as you want.  All you need to start is some good quality mustard seeds, liquid for soaking such as wine, beer or vinegar, toss in some spices, add something sweet such as sugar or honey and a sprinkling of salt.

mustardseeds1024Mustard Seeds

Yellow mustard (also called white) seeds are on the left and brown mustard seeds are on the right. Notice that the yellow mustard seeds are nearly twice the size than the brown mustard seeds. They are also a lot less pungent in flavor than the brown mustard seeds. I personally like the brown mustard seeds better because of the heat factor. Look for mustard seeds in the bulk foods section of your favorite specialty or natural food store. If you can’t find it locally, you can always resort to shopping online. Once you learn how to make your own Whole Grain Mustard, it’s doubtful that you will want to use store the bought varieties ever again. Thank you Jan Roberts-Dominguez for the mustard lesson and the inspiration!  Enjoy! Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 3/4 cup beer (I used Nice Rack IPA)
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 3 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste

In a non reactive bowl or jar (glass, plastic or stainless steel) add the mustard seeds, beer, and vinegar.  Make sure that the seeds are covered in liquid.  If you need to add more liquid, use equal parts beer and vinegar.  Just be careful, you don’t want your mustard to be too watery. Place the mustard covered in a cool place for 48 hours.  Add the remaining ingredients and place in food processor. Blend mustard for about two minutes or until you reach your desired texture. Taste and correct your seasonings.  Place mustard in clean jars with a tight fitting lid and store in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks.  Makes about 2 3/4 cups.

***Recipe adapted from Jan Roberts-Dominguez

Rustic Tomato Marinara

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

First of all, I owe my family, friends and coworkers a big huge apology.  You see, I will not be giving away my excess homegrown tomatoes from my garden to them ever again.  It’s not that I don’t like to share or that I am a stingy person or that I like to hoard my garden produce.  It’s just that I need the tomatoes because I have learned how to make my own homemade Rustic Tomato Marinara Sauce from scratch. And in my opinion, this Rustic Tomato Marinara sauce is worth apologizing for.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The key to this delicious sauce is freshly picked, perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes.  This bucket full of lemon boy’s, early girls, green zebras, pineapples, mortgage lifters and a handful sweet millions was used in my Rustic Tomato Marinara.  What makes this sauce “rustic” is that I did not peel the tomatoes or seed them before tossing in the pot for cooking.  I say, so what, who cares?  A stick blender takes care of the tomato skins and as a result there’s very little waste and a fantastic tomato flavor.

20140816_092203 (1024x731) copy

My Rustic Tomato Marinara is one of those recipes that works better by taste and feel rather than following the recipe exactly.  Why?  Every variety of tomato is different and some cook faster than others.  Also, you can add whatever blend of spices and herbs you like.  If you like it spicy, add some red pepper flakes.  It’s all about you and your taste. The next time you have an overabundance of tomatoes, make some Rustic Tomato Marinara.  Enjoy! Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon tomatoes (about 5 pounds, quartered)
  • 2 onions (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup wine (I used red table wine)
  • 1 cup fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • about 2 – 3 cups water
  • 5 cloves garlic (minced)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 – 2 Tbs sugar (optional)

Grab a large pot and saute the onions in the olive oil until they turn translucent.  Meanwhile, wash and remove stem scars from tomatoes. Quarter the tomatoes, making sure that all the tomato chunks are somewhat uniform in size.  Add tomatoes, wine, water, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper to the pot, Cook on low uncovered for 2 – 3 hours, stirring often.  Add garlic near the end of the cooking process.  Using an immersion or stick blender, blend sauce until smooth or desired consistency.  If the sauce is too watery or thin, cook the sauce longer to reduce or if it’s too thick, add more water.  Taste your sauce, add sugar if necessary.  The purpose of the sugar is to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Correct your seasonings.  Remove from heat.  Use sauce immediately or cool and put into plastic containers to freeze for later use.  Makes about 2 – 2 1/2 quarts.

Frank’s RedHot Sunflower Seeds

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you ever peeked into my refrigerator, chances are that I have a big bottle of Frank’s RedHot Sauce stowed away on the refrigerator door.  Actually, I have a whole door shelf dedicated to spicy hot sauce mixtures and blends.  I love hot sauce.  I love spicy food.  Bruce thinks that I am crazy because I love that lingering burn from hot peppers.  Little does he know, I’m perfectly fine…

My fondness for fiery food began when I was about 10 years old.  I did not want to eat the bland and boring dishes that the other kids in my family were eating, I wanted what the adults were putting on their plates.  Things have not changed.  Now when someone asks me how hot I want my food, my typical response is “make me cry”.

P7275298 (766x1024)

The other day while shopping at a wholesale food/restaurant supply store, I stumbled across a container of Frank’s RedHot Seasoning blend in the spice aisle.  I’ve never seen it in a regular grocery store before so I think it’s something that is meant to be sold to restaurants and commercial food establishments.  Frank’s RedHot Sauce is a delicious blend of an aged variety of red cayenne peppers, vinegar and garlic.  I use Frank’s RedHot Sauce in and on so many dishes that I prepare.  And, when I first discovered that spice blend, I knew I had something amazingly delicious in my hands.  I could not wait to get home and try it out!

Franks1

As soon as I got home, I opened the lid of the container, poked my finger into the spice mixture and tasted it.  It had that same Frank’s flavor that I knew and loved but it was in a dehydrated form perfect for sprinkling on french fries, homemade potato chips, popcorn, chicken or whatever my little heart desires.  I then put the spice blend in a shaker for an even better distribution of flavor on my dishes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My Frank’s RedHot Sunflower Seeds are a simple combination of three ingredients.  Raw shelled sunflower seeds, an egg white and Frank’s RedHot Seasoning blend.  That’s it.  Plus, it’s so easy to make, you can have a pound of these delicious little snacks knocked out in about 15 minutes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These little sunflower seeds are packed with serious cayenne flavor.  You can adjust the flavor level to suit your taste buds by adding or minimizing the amount of Frank’s RedHot Seasoning that you choose to use…  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a medium sized bowl whisk the egg white until frothy.  Add the raw sunflower seeds and Frank’s Seasoning blend.  Go easy on the seasoning the first time out…  You can always add more at the very end.  Toss and coat well.  Grab a large cookie sheet and spray with non stick spray.  Add the sunflower seed mixture to the cookie sheet spreading out the sunflower seeds evenly.

Place the cookie sheet on the highest rack in the oven.  Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes.  Stirring the sunflower seeds often.  Carefully taste a seed or two before removing from the oven to make sure you get the desired crunchiness and toasty color (they’re hot!).  Remove from the oven, shake more Frank’s Seasoning on the sunflower seeds if desired, let cool and place in an airtight container.  Lasts about 5 – 7 days.

Easy Lentil Chili

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One evening after work last week, Bruce and I had quite the discussion on how we wanted to eat healthier meals in the New Year.  We talked about eating more vegetarian dishes and avoiding white bread, white sugar and most the most damaging thing of all, fast food.  Our conversation was not about making any resolutions, it was all about making some positive lifestyle changes.  I particularly liked that idea for I don’t believe in resolutions.  I know that when I make New Year’s resolutions, you can bet that I will break them within a few short months.

One of the challenges with cooking healthy meals in our home is finding dishes that both Bruce and I will enjoy.  For instance, I love ingredients such as kidney beans, green peas, fresh picked asparagus and mushrooms.  Bruce on the other hand, will not (knowingly) eat those foods.  He considers them taboo.  And trust me…  He has quite the list of “taboo” ingredients.  So, in order to accomplish preparing a meal that I know that Bruce will like, I sometimes have to get really creative and super stealthy.  That sometimes means chopping the forbidden ingredients into smaller pieces, not telling Bruce what he is “really” eating unless he asks and putting the focus on creating fabulous flavor profiles that distracts his attention.  In other words, out of site, out of mind is the key when preparing a dish for Bruce.

While shopping at Trader Joe’s last week I found a package of precooked lentils in the produce section of the store.  Fortunately, after about ten years of marriage, Bruce has finally warmed to the idea of eating lentils.  Unlike Bruce, I have always loved lentils and with our busy lives this precooked ingredient was something that I just had to try.  I figured that the precooked lentils would be delicious in salads or soups for lunch during the work week.  This evening, I opted to put the lentils in a quick chili for dinner.  As a result, I am glad that I did.  Bruce absolutely loved it!  And the cool part about all this was that he did not notice that he just ate a meal that was hearty, and high in fiber and iron.  And, as a final double bonus, it was vegetarian and cholesterol free!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My Easy Lentil Chili is super simple to make, incredibly flavorful and tastes great with fresh baked cornbread and a leafy green salad on the side.  Garnish my Easy Lentil Chili with some shredded cheddar cheese, a little dollop of light sour cream, a spoonful of salsa and a sprinkling of fresh chopped cilantro.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 17 oz. package Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils (about 2 1/2 cups, cooked)
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (or more if desired)
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 Tbs flour (whisked with 1/2 cup stock to make a slurry)
  • 2 Tbs extra dark cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbs dark chili powder
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • Top with shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream or fresh cilantro (optional)

In a medium sized pot on medium flame, cook onions in canola oil until onions are translucent. Add 1/2 package of lentils, vegetable stock, coffee, flour slurry, extra dark cocoa powder, dark chili powder, brown sugar, garlic paste, cumin, sriracha, thyme, salt and pepper.  Turn down the heat, cook uncovered on low for about 30 – 40 minutes stirring occasionally, taking care not to burn the chili.  Add remaining lentils and cook covered for an additional 15 minutes.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa and/or chopped cilantro.  Makes about 4 servings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spicy Teriyaki Sauce

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpicy Teriyaki Sauce

The year 2013 is quickly coming to a close and I wanted stop and say hello and squeeze in one last recipe for the year.  For so many dumb reasons, 2013 has not been the best year for me and frankly, I really look forward to a clean slate in 2014.  You know, you just have to realize that some years are just like that.  We’ve all had those years. Unfortunately, it is what it is. By late spring of this past year, I knew that I had to just had to put my head down, grit my teeth and push through it. And I did. It was hard. I endured a few bumps and bruises, spilled a few tears but I made it through 2013 in one piece and with my chin held high. This next year I plan on devoting more time to my blog, taking a much needed fly away tropical vacation with Bruce and most importantly, focus on simplifying my life. Oh, and I really would like to take a photography class…  Sounds like a brilliant idea doesn’t it?

Last week, I was thinking about making a batch of teriyaki sauce for some grilled salmon that I wanted to prepare later on in the work week.  This time, I wanted to prepare something different than the usual (but, delicious) teriyaki sauce that I make for my family.  I wanted a sauce that was sweet, spicy and packed a bit of heat.  My Spicy Teriyaki Sauce turned out to be just the ticket.  It’s great drizzled over grilled chicken, fish, tofu or beef.  For even more flavor, marinate your protein ingredients in the Spicy Teriyaki Sauce prior to tossing on the grill.  Maybe even use it in stir fried vegetables or noodles.  My Spicy Teriyaki Sauce is super simple to make and tastes delicious!  With that said, I hope that you will have a wonderful and prosperous 2014!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup light soy sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 3 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 2 Tbs corn starch
  • 2 Tbs garlic chili sauce (or sambal oelek)
  • 1 Tbs toasted sesame seeds

In a medium sized sauce pan whisk together all the ingredients.  Taste the sauce and add more garlic chili sauce if desired.  Place over medium low heat, cook for 30 minutes or so, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, let cool and pour in a clean airtight container.  Store refrigerated for up two weeks.  Makes about 2 cups.

Godzilla Smoothie

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Godzilla Smoothie

For the past year, my life has been extremely hectic.  Long hours at work with very little time off.  In order to get things done in an efficient and effective manner, I have had to step up my game in the multitasking department.  It’s not that I wanted to do it but, had to.  Picture this…  Imagine a woman sitting at her kitchen table every morning before the sun is up and the neighborhood is awake.  She has a hot cup of coffee in the left hand, a newspaper in the right, her laptop is open to the day’s emails, a tube of black mascara is on one side and shiny lip gloss on the other.  Oh, and there’s a bright orange cat in her lap demanding attention and a lively white terrier with his paws on the side of her chair wanting to play ball.  That woman you just imagined is me.  I do that nearly every day in a span of about thirty minutes.  After the half hour is over, there’s nothing but a vapor trail between my home and the office.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGodzilla

I have to admit that I never had an energy drink until about a month ago.  One day, on my way to work, I stopped at my favorite coffee stand.  I was not in the mood for my usual triple shot nonfat vanilla latte over ice.  I wanted something different.  It had to be ice cold, slightly sweet but with a “generous” dose of caffeine.  As the barista suggested, I purchased a smoothie blended with a Red Bull.  Pros: It tasted really good.  It filled me up and gave me that big energy boost that I was looking for.  Con:  It was five bucks including the tip.  After that, I knew that I could make my own smoothie with an energy drink.  The very next day the Godzilla Smoothie was born.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My Godzilla Smoothie is all that I wanted my new smoothie to be.  Ice cold, slightly sweet, and highly caffeinated.  It’s made with spinach, mango, a splash of mango juice and a can of Red Bull…  It does have healthy elements such as nutrient rich spinach and mangoes.  Yet, it has the lively pick me up of an energy drink.  It tastes great and certainly does the trick when time is at a premium.  I must say, drinking my Godzilla Smoothie is multitasking at its finest.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1/4 cup frozen spinach
  • splash of mango juice (to taste)
  • 1 8.4 ounce can of Red Bull

Add all ingredients to a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Serve immediately.  Makes one Godzilla Smoothie.

***Note:  This beverage should be consumed in moderation.  It’s not for everyone.  Be sure to read the label.  Energy drinks are not for children, pregnant women or people who are sensitive to caffeine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Angel Hair Pasta With Roasted Indigo Rose Tomatoes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAngel Hair Pasta with Roasted Indigo Rose Tomatoes

Last week I paid close attention to the weather forecast and as a result I went out to my little garden and stripped all my tomato plants of any and all tomatoes that had color.  According to the weatherman on the television, summer was officially over.  After what I witnessed yesterday, I should have known better.  You know what I’m talking about…  For example, the meteorologist tells you in the morning that it is going to bright and sunny and by mid afternoon, you wished you had brought an umbrella.

Well, when it comes to the weather, sometimes I need to remind myself that Mother Nature can be very unpredictable.  After picking all those tomatoes, I ignored my garden thinking that it was over and done for the season.  Nope.  Not even remotely close… When I walked out to the garden yesterday, I was astonished at what I saw.  There were dozens of tomatoes ready to picked once again.  The first thing I thought was, great!, I will have fresh tomatoes for lunch and dinner!  The second thing I thought was oh, shii…take mushrooms, there are so many tomatoes left out on the vines and I have a lot of work to do!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Do you see what I mean?  Most of the tomatoes will be made into a sauce, some will be roasted, and some will be frozen.  Some will be given away, and some will be eaten fresh.  You get the picture.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  I’m happy to have them.  You will however, hear me complain this winter when I don’t have any fresh picked homegrown tomatoes to eat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These are Indigo Rose Tomatoes.  They are small in size, red in color and with a splash of dark purple.  These tomatoes are another favorite of mine.  They are great roasted, sliced fresh in salads and can even be stuffed with chicken or tuna for wonderful little bite sized appetizers or a light lunch.  They are also really pretty and different looking than your average red tomato.  A wonderful way to prepare Indigo Rose Tomatoes is to roast them and then toss them with some angel hair pasta, baby spinach, fresh basil, olive oil and fresh grated Romano cheese for light and flavorful dinner.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup roasted tomatoes (see recipe below)
  • 4 ounces dried angel hair pasta
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1/8 cup fresh basil sliced thinly
  • 1 Tbs olive oil or more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated Romano cheese (more if desired)
  • garnish with fresh basil

Cook angel hair pasta according to manufacturer’s direction, drain and set aside. If needed, drizzle a bit of olive oil over the pasta to keep it from sticking.  Heat a saute pan over a medium high flame.  Add roasted tomatoes (with the juice), olive oil, baby spinach, basil, garlic paste, red pepper flakes and cook until the spinach begins to wilt.  Add the angel hair pasta and cook until heated through.  Add additional olive oil if desired.  Add salt and pepper.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Place on serving platter, top with Romano cheese and garnish with fresh basil.   Makes 2 servings.

How to Oven Roast 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.  When freezing the tomatoes, measure the roasted tomatoes and juice in one cup portions and place in sandwich bags.  Lay the sandwich bags flat in your freezer in order to maximize your freezer space.

Note: if you don’t like the skins on the tomatoes, just pull the skins off after cooking.  They pop off pretty easily.