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Broccoli and Spinach Bisque

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Years ago, while growing up, if I wanted to have a bowl of soup for lunch, it came out of a small bright red and white can.  It was called Campbell’s…  Our family always had Campbell’s condensed cans of cream of mushroom, chicken noodle or tomato available in the cupboard ready to add water and heat up.  Back then, I thought that it tasted great for I did not know any better.  Homemade soup was pretty much nonexistent in our diets because we never made it at home and we rarely ate at what I would call a “sit down restaurant”.  And if we did, I would always order a green salad instead of soup.

I was first introduced to making homemade soups after I moved out of the house in my late teens.  I learned how to prepare soups while working my way through college as a short order cook.  As a short order cook, I discovered how easy, inexpensive and delicious homemade soups can be.  In the commercial kitchen, I learned how to make bean soups, cream soups, vegetable soups, noodle soups and so much more.  I strongly believe that my education in the restaurant was as valuable as the high priced education that I received in college.

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Today, I want to share with you an easy to make Broccoli and Spinach Bisque.  It’s made with fresh organic broccoli, spinach and leeks in a good quality chicken stock with a hint of white pepper and fresh grated nutmeg.  Instead of using heavy cream with a ton of fat and calories, I’ve lightened it up a bit with some 2% milk.

“Toto, I’ve a feeling that we’re not having Campbell’s anymore”.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound broccoli florets
  • 2 cups leeks (white and light green parts only, chopped)
  • 5 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 quart Chicken Stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 4 Tbs flour
  • 2 cups milk (2%)

Begin by cooking the leeks in 1 Tbs butter in a large sauce pan.  Cook over medium flame until translucent, stirring constantly taking care not to burn.  Add broccoli, chicken stock and salt.  Cover and cook until broccoli is tender.  Add spinach, grated nutmeg and white pepper and cook a few minutes more.  Meanwhile in a medium sized sauce pan cook butter and flour mixture (making a roux) until a light golden brown.  Add milk, whisk constantly and cook until thickened.  Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture.  Puree with hand blender and cook for a few more minutes.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Ladle into cups or bowls and garnish with chopped green onion or chives.  Makes 2 quarts or about 8 – 1 cup servings.

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Easy Lentil Chili

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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!

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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.

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Spicy Teriyaki Sauce

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sweet Potato Bread

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Some people like to collect stamps, some people like to collect trading cards.  Me?  I like to collect different types of pantry ingredients.  For example, I don’t have just one or two bottles of vinegar in my cupboard, I have well over a dozen different varieties of vinegar.   When it comes to throwing together a quick or an exotic meal, I have all my bases covered.  My pantry is chock full of wide range of ingredients that would make most discerning home cook squeal with delight.  However, I make it a point to avoid purchasing pre-made mixes or boxed dinners.  Finding a box of “Hamburger Helper” sitting in my cupboard is as likely as me becoming the next new swimsuit model for Sports Illustrated.  Just not happening…

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One of the random ingredients sitting on the pantry shelf was a little can of organic sweet potato puree.  I have to tell you that when I bought it puree, I had no idea what I was going to do with it.  I’ve never used canned sweet potato puree before, so I simply wanted to taste it and see how it compared to sweet potato puree made from scratch.

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I was surprised to find that the canned sweet potato puree tasted really good.  The sweet potato puree was creamy, sweet and is reminiscent of cooked pumpkin.  It also made a decent substitute for canned pumpkin and it saved me about an hours worth of time if I decided to prepare it myself.  With all that said, I still stand behind my opinion that fresh ingredients always tastes better than canned.  However, there is no shame in using a good quality canned ingredients.  I just did, and I was pleased with the results.

My easy to make Sweet Potato Bread is light, moist and has the wonderful flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.  It’s great sliced for a quick breakfast on the go or as a snack with a warm cup of tea.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 15 ounce can sweet potato puree
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch baking pans.  In a medium sized mixing bowl add the sweet potato puree, canola oil, eggs, water and vanilla.  Mix well.  In a separate large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Divide mixture between the two baking pans.  Bake in oven for about 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks, slice and serve.  Makes two loaves.

Smoked Salmon Dip

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It’s late October and I’m having a tough time giving up my warm weather habits…  I’m resisting the impending cold weather as long as I can.  Even if it is a bone chilling 32 degrees outside, I still prefer to order my latte over ice early in the morning on my way to work.  I know that once I start to order it piping hot, I’m going to be drinking it that way until the warm weather arrives again in the spring.  I look at it this way, we still have at least another week of glorious warm weather here in Southern Oregon and I am going to take advantage of it.  That means getting outdoors and enjoying the bright sunshine while it is still here.

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While preparing my Smoked Salmon Dip for an appetizer for a dinner party later this evening, I spied some cedar waxwings in one of the trees outside my kitchen window.  I immediately stopped what I was doing and grabbed my camera.  Cedar waxwings are sleek crested medium sized birds that frequent my neighborhood in the fall of the year.  They arrive in large noisy flocks to eat the fruit off of the flowering crab apple tree in the back of the yard.  Cedar waxwings are distinctive for they look like little bandits with dark black masks streaked across their faces.

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Another way of identifying a cedar waxwing is by the glossy dark grey wing feathers and bright yellow tip on its tail.  Cedar waxwings are similar to Bohemian waxwings but are smaller in size.

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A pair of cedar waxwings deciding on which juicy berry they are going to pick first.  The one on top of the photo is a juvenile.  You can tell by the lightly mottled brown feathers on its breast and back.  By next spring its plumage will look like the mature adult perched on the branch below.

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Cedar waxwings are without a doubt, greedy little birds.  They are in the trees as soon as the sun comes up in the morning, and they stay throughout the day, gobbling up as much fruit as they can fit into their bellies.  It’s amazing to see how many berries one single bird will gulp down.  Within a few short weeks all of the fruit will be stripped from the trees.  Regardless of what the calendar says, that in my mind, officially marks the end of the warm summer months…

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After snapping a few photos of the cedar waxwings, I resumed preparing my Smoked Salmon Dip.  My Smoked Salmon Dip is light, flavorful and easy to make. It’s made with good quality smoked Oregon Chinook salmon, fluffy cream cheese, light sour cream, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, fresh squeezed lemon juice, hot sauce, salt and pepper.  My Smoked Salmon Dip tastes amazing on crackers, toasts, chips and even fresh vegetables.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces smoked salmon
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • a few dashes hot sauce (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • garnish with bits of smoked salmon or fresh snipped herbs

Begin by placing the cream cheese, sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and hot sauce in a medium sized bowl.  Using a hand mixer, whip the cream cheese mixture until it is light and fluffy.  Be sure to use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure that the mixture is well incorporated.  Break apart the smoked salmon into smaller pieces removing the skin or any bones.   Add smoked salmon to the cream cheese mixture and blend well.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Keep chilled.  Place in a dish and serve.  Garnish with bits of smoked salmon and herbs.  Makes approximately two cups.

Egg Drop Soup

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Fall is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love it when the leaves on the deciduous trees in my neighborhood turn canary yellow, fiery orange and bright red.  Fresh picked apples, pears and pumpkins are some of the last crops sold at the local farmers markets as the late summer harvest winds down.  Remnants of my little garden will be tossed in a compost bin and added back to the soil next year.  Seeds will be saved.  Pots need to be scrubbed and cleaned and tomato cages need to be stacked.  In a few short months, the seed catalogs for next year will be in my mailbox.  Can you believe it?  I’m already planning next year’s garden.

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On the flip side, fall marks the beginning of the cold and flu season.  People walking around with sniffles and barking coughs become increasingly noticeable.  At the grocery store, over the counter cold remedies and boxes of tissue seem to fly off the store shelves.  Hand sanitizer and constant hand washing does help in the prevention of colds but, sometimes there’s no avoiding it.  Once you got it, you’ve got it.  We’ve all had it.  Unfortunately, most of the time, you just have to let it simply run its course…

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One of my favorite dishes to prepare while dealing with the common cold is Egg Drop Soup.  My Egg Drop Soup is similar to what you may find at your favorite Chinese restaurant.  My Egg Drop Soup is slightly different for I like to add finely chopped carrots, celery and use galangal root instead of ginger.  It’s easy to prepare, mild in flavor and has a wonderful soul soothing chicken soup like quality about it.  I love curling up on the couch with a good book and wrapping my hands around a warm little cup of my Egg Drop Soup.  Egg Drop Soup certainly won’t cure your cold but it may help you feel just a little bit better.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart chicken stock (reserve 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup celery (chopped fine)
  • 1/2 cup carrot (chopped fine)
  • 1 slice dried galangal root
  • 1/8 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 1/4 Tbs cornstarch
  • salt to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 or 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce (optional)
  • chives or green onion for garnish

In a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat add 3 cups chicken stock, celery, carrot, galangal, and white pepper.  Bring to a slow boil.  Cook until the celery and carrots are tender.  Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix together the cornstarch and 1 cup of chicken stock.  Add cornstarch mixture to soup and stir well.  In a small bowl lightly beat eggs.

Now, grab a spoon and stir the boiling soup in a single direction.  Slowly add the egg mixture to the soup stirring gently.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Remove galangal root.  Add soy sauce if desired and garnish with chopped chives or green onions.  Makes about 4 – 1 cup servings.

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!

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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.

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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.

Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes

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My little garden is a well planned garden.  It’s a lot of work but it’s completely worth it.  In comparison to other people’s gardens, my garden is small, efficient and in my opinion, for its size, it kicks some serious butt.  By the time spring rolls around, I know exactly what is getting planted and where.  What’s even worse is that I am extremely picky about the tomato plants that I grow every year.  If you don’t believe me, just ask Bruce.  I have limited space so I have to choose my plants wisely.  I make a list and I stick to it.  When it comes to tomatoes, I like a variety of shapes, colors and flavors.  This year I chose Green Zebra, Early Girl, Pineapple, Sun Gold, Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Sweet 100, Lemon Boy, Japanese Black Trifele, Mortgage Lifter, Caspian Pink and Moskovich.  That’s my list and I’m sticking to it.  Until today…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATomato Plant

I prefer to do my gardening early in the cool hours in the morning.  I hand water my plants everyday and inspect every one for pests or other possible plant problems.  Everything that I grow is organic and free from pesticides or sprays.  Sometimes, the veggies that I grow are not as pretty as store bought but I don’t care.  Pretty is not everything.  What’s important is that what I grow in my garden is safe for my family to eat.

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My tomatoes are ripening and I just realized that have an alien specie in my garden.  The tomato that you see is not what I intended to plant.  This little unripe tomato completely threw my well planned orderly universe on it’s side.  This tomato was supposed to be a Green Zebra.  Green Zebras are my son’s favorite.  That is why I planted two plants.  This is no Green Zebra and frankly, I was a bit miffed.  Either someone switched tags at the nursery where I bought it or the seeds were switched at birth.    Fortunately I have a backup.  As for the alien specie, it took me about an hour of internet time to figure this one out.  This tomato is called Stupice.  Yes, Stupice.  Go figure.

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One of my favorite ways to prepare tomatoes from my garden is to oven roast them.  It’s easy to do, they taste freakingly amazing and once they are roasted, they are so versatile.  Just toss them in your favorite pasta dish or blend them up for a delicious sauce.  They also taste great on pizza, in soup or even in scrambled eggs.  The possibilities are endless!

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Just toss the tomatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper.

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And roast them…  Roasted tomatoes are seriously delicious.  As for the Stupice tomatoes,  I don’t know why I was having such an issue… Stupice have a wonderful sweet and tart tomato flavor.  It’s highly likely that Stupice will find a place in our little garden next year and possibly in the many years to come.

Ingredients:

  • tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Cut tomatoes in half or into large chunks and remove the tops.  If the tomatoes are small, then there’s no need to slice them. Gently squeeze out some of the seeds.  Toss lightly with olive oil, salt, pepper.  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 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

Grilled Grapefruit Chicken

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Grilled Grapefruit Chicken

I finally had another well earned day off and let me tell you, it was great!  It was so amazing to spend a leisurely day at home and in my garden doing absolutely nothing.  The house was quiet most of the day until the unthinkable occurred.  While assembling some fresh fruit smoothies for Bruce and I the other morning is when it happened…  Neither Bruce or I saw it coming.    Everything appeared normal and all looked fine as I dropped in some gorgeous bright strawberries, blueberries and bright orange mango chunks into one of my most cherished kitchen appliances.  As I secured the lid, the base of my blender appeared to be tightly fastened to the glass pitcher before I pushed the start button.  Within a matter of seconds, I shredded the motorized gears and destroyed the base unit, rendering my blender completely useless.

What completely “frosted my cookies” about the incident was that I received that blender as a gift from my mother many years ago.  I loved that blender.  It was a beautiful bright red KitchenAid and it was in perfect running condition before I destroyed it… And the smoothie ingredients?  Not salvageable either.  All went straight into the garbage can.

Well.  I have to tell you.  There is a bright side to the story.  I have a new blender.  My husband Bruce felt pity for me and within a few hours he brought me down to Macy’s to pick out a replacement to help dry my tears.  Before we left our home, I did my homework, and read the blender reviews on the internet prior to purchasing the new blender. First of all, I avoided purchasing a unit with a similar design.  I wanted something with a one piece construction rather than three.  I wanted a quality blender that was sturdy, with high wattage and really easy to clean.  Surprisingly, Bruce did not even bat an eye at the price.  We simply walked into the store, I pointed at what I wanted, he lifted the box off the shelf and pulled out his credit card from his wallet.  What a sweet man! Or rather, I should say, a very sweet intelligent man.   He really likes his smoothies.

While all the fuss was going on, I had placed some chicken thighs and legs in a tangy grapefruit marinade in the refrigerator for dinner later that day.  The marinade is a wonderful combination of flavors with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, lime juice, garlic, Sazon Goya seasoning, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper.  I marinated the chicken for a few hours before tossing on the grill.  My grilled grapefruit chicken is easy to make and has a wonderful Mexican inspired flavor.  Enjoy!  Tessa

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Grapefruit Chicken on the grill…

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 3 pounds chicken thighs and legs
  • 2 grapefruit (juiced)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbs lime juice
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I used more)
  • 2 packets Sazon Goya seasoning (cilantro and anchiote blend)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together the grapefruit juice, olive oil, lime juice, sugar, garlic paste, cayenne pepper, Sazon Goya seasoning, salt and pepper.  Add the chicken pieces, cover with plastic wrap and marinade in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.  Turn chicken at least once.  Heat up your grill and place chicken on medium high heat.  Throw away the marinade.  Cook until juices run clear and the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees.  Remove from grill, place on serving platter, garnish with cilantro and serve.  Makes about 4 servings.