Tag Archives: rogue valley

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.

Fava Bean and Ham Soup

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFava Bean and Ham Soup

I can’t even believe it.  It’s starting to feel like autumn.  The mornings are cool and the days are getting noticeably shorter.  As I look out my kitchen window, I see that the leaves on many of the trees are starting to turn yellow and some are even beginning the fall drop.  My garden is starting to wind down and the tomatoes are slower to ripen.  With the official start of fall in a few days, the first fall frost is likely to happen later this month or early October.  Once the frost hits, my summer garden is pretty much done for the season.  After that, no more fresh picked organic tomatoes, basil, beans, cucumbers or summer squash.  Bummer…  I will have to wait until next year for the convenience of fresh picked veggies or spend big bucks at the local co-op to get my organic fresh  vegetable fix.

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A bucketful of some of the last of the cherry tomato crop…  If you never have had home grown cherry tomatoes you are missing out big time.  Home grown cherry tomatoes taste so different than the ones you may find at your local store.  They are thinner skinned, juicier, sweeter and pack some hard core flavor.  One of my favorite things to do while watering my garden in the evening is to stand next to one of the cherry tomato plants and pop handfuls of these little red gems in my mouth.  They are so delicious!

While looking for some dried Lima beans at the grocery store yesterday, I ran across a bag of Bob’s Red Mill fava beans.  I’ve never cooked with fava beans before.  Fava beans looked like large Lima beans so I thought that I would give them a try.  Fortunately, the fava beans were shelled so I did not have to deal with the tedious task of shelling them myself.  All I did was to rinse them well and to pick through them to make sure that there was no debris mixed in with the beans.  I then soaked the fava beans in cold water for about 4 – 5 hours to soften them up.

My Fava Bean and Ham Soup is made with roasted tomatoes, bell pepper, celery, carrot and onion and then simmered in a good quality chicken stock with herbs and spices.  It’s a wonderfully hearty and flavorful soup that’s perfect for a cool fall day.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried fava beans (shelled, picked over and soaked at least 4 hours)
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1 cup roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 carrot (chopped)
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/2 pound ham (chopped)
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garnish with fresh chopped parsley

Place a large sized heavy bottomed pot or a dutch oven with a tight fitting lid on the stove.  Turn heat to medium high and add canola oil, onions, bell pepper, celery and roasted tomatoes.  Cook, stirring constantly until onions are translucent.  Add remaining ingredients, cover, and turn stove down to simmer.  Cook for 2 – 3 hours until the fava beans are tender or to your liking, stirring occasionally.  Remove bay leaf.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Makes about 4 – 6 servings.

Green Bean Tomato Salad With Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGreen Bean Tomato Salad with Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette

I’ve never seen purple colored “green beans” at the grocery store before and when I saw the seeds for the Trionfo Violetto Beans in one of my seed catalogs earlier this spring, I knew that I had to grow them myself if I wanted to try them.  When it comes to planting vegetables in my little garden every year, I try to grow plants that tend to be uncommon or hard to find at the store.  As for the Trionfo Violetto beans, they certainly fit the bill…

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A big handful of fresh picked Trionfo Violetto Beans.  I absolutely love the dark purple color.  What’s so interesting is that when you slice them, they have a vibrant green center.  While picking my beans one morning, I was startled to see a large purple and green dragonfly sitting on a stem in the middle of the vines.  I’ve seen dragonflies in our backyard around our koi pond but never on the garden side of the house.  This one was big!  Its wingspan was easily 4 inches across.  I did not have my glasses on so I was way closer to the dragonfly than I would have liked.  As soon as I recognized what it was, I pulled my hand slowly away from the beans (taking care not to freak out, scream at the top of my lungs and wake up the neighbors) and ran straight back into the house to grab my camera.

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I was amazed that he was still there in the same spot when I got back! I was fortunate to snap a few photos before he flew away.  He was camouflaged extremely well and was very similar in color to the bean plants.  I’ve been out to the garden several times since and unfortunately I have not seen this beautiful dragonfly again.

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Do you see what I mean about the Trionfo Violetto Beans?  They are really beautiful and very unusual.  What I found is that once you cook the Trionfo Violetto Beans, they turn green just like a regular green bean!

In addition to the gorgeous Trionfo Violetto Beans, I grew some Kentucky Wonder Green Beans.  The Kentucky Wonder variety of bean is similar to the type of green beans you will find at the grocery store.  They are your basic “all purpose” green bean.  You can put them in salads, cook, can, or freeze them.  They are easy to grow and produce an abundance of smooth green pods.  I have to say that for the first time growing pole beans, I was fairly successful with strong plants and a decent sized crop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGreen Bean Tomato Salad With Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette

My Green Bean Tomato Salad with a Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette can be made with pretty much any variety of green bean.  In this recipe I used the Kentucky Wonder green beans and cherry tomatoes that I grew in my garden.  The Green Bean Tomato Salad With Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette is wonderfully tangy yet slightly sweet.  The bright colored tomatoes make this vibrant green bean salad a stunning side dish. It’s easy to make, fresh and delicious.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans trimmed and cut into 1″ sized pieces
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs champagne vinegar
  • 1 Tbs shallot (minced)
  • 2 tsp mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Begin by boiling a medium sized pot of water with a big pinch of salt.  Add the green beans and cook for about 5 minutes or until tender.  Don’t overcook.  If you do, your beans will look gray and not a pretty bright green.  As soon as the beans are done, immediately place them in a medium sized bowl of ice water.  The ice water stops the cooking process and cools the beans.  Remove ice cubes and drain well.  Meanwhile whisk together in a small bowl, olive oil, champagne vinegar, shallot, mirin, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.   Taste and correct your seasonings.  In a medium sized bowl lightly toss the beans and tomatoes with the Dijon vinaigrette.  Add to a serving dish and serve chilled.  Makes about 3 servings.