Monday, August 22, 2011

A Truckload of Roasted Veggies

I've had a weird diet today.  I've been using up veggies from my CSA boxes.  For lunch, I had a spinach salad with diced zucchini, cucumber, kohlrabi, purple bell pepper, and a tomato.  It was a huge salad, so I saved half of it for tomorrow.  Tonight, I decided it was time to roast some veggies.
I cut up probably a dozen small gold beets, a head of cauliflower, a big sweet potato, and 2 medium sized white potatoes.  I tossed them in a mixture of 3 tbsp.extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. hot curry powder, 1/2 tsp. Spike seasoning, and 1 tbsp. lemon juice.  I roasted them for 30 minutes at 400º.  They weren't done, which didn't surprise me because I had so many veggies in the pan.  I stirred them and put them in to roast for 20 more minutes.  They still weren't done to my liking, but they were drying out and sticking to the pan.  ACK!  I drizzled a little bit more olive oil on them and sprinkled them with red cayenne pepper and smoked paprika.  I gave them a good stir, turned the oven temp down to 350º and cooked them for 20 more minutes. 
Finally, the veggies were done to my satisfaction.  They have just a hint of a "kick."  These are very tasty.  I'm glad I got a significant portion of my veggies on hand either eaten, ready to eat, or roasted.  I will be eating these roasted veggies over the next day or two.  I think I'll have some of them in a wrap for my supper tomorrow for a little variety.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

BBQ Tofu, Bruschetta in a Jar, and a Stupid Move

Hot Lemon Peppers in the lower left corner and Tabasco Peppers in the right half of the picture
My pepper plants are still producing.  Actually, I haven't picked any of the Tabasco peppers yet.  I have harvested some of the hot lemon peppers and two habanero peppers.  I've been waiting for the rest of the habanero peppers to turn a deep orange, but it's slow going. :)
Habanero Peppers
This week, I made a great dish.  I made BBQ Tofu Cubes from  The tofu was absolutely fantastic!  I ate part of it the night I made it.  I put it on a high fiber (12 gr.) tomato basil tortilla with some romaine lettuce.  Wow!  I took the rest of it to work to have on another tortilla for lunch.  I definitely recommend this recipe if you like BBQ.
Later in the week, I had a meatloaf burger from The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet by Joni Marie Newman. I made the burgers earlier this summer and threw a couple in my freezer.  I put some of my Bread and Butter Jalapenos on the burger and MAN OH MAN!  It was one good burger.  I think my Bread and Butter Jalapenos are a complete success.  Thank you, Darlene!!!  (My canning mentor!)  They are a bit spicy, but not too hot and oh so yummy!  I'll be making these every year.
I finally ventured over to the Homewood Farmer's Market yesterday in the POURING rain.  I'm so glad I did, too, as I found many delightful veggies.  I bought 4 pounds of tomatoes, 3 heads of garlic, a red onion, cauliflower, and some mushrooms.  I already had 2½ pounds of Roma tomatoes from my CSA box, but I needed a bit more to make some Bruschetta in a Jar. The link is to the basic recipe, but the directions I followed (via Darlene, of course) are a bit different.  Just before I made this, another poster in our Yahoo! canning group said that one of her jars broke in the hot water bath.  Darlene thought it was because she didn't use hot tomatoes, but packed the jars with room temperature tomatoes.  Needless to say, I followed Darlene's recipe.
Bruschetta in a Jar 

Makes about 7 half pint jars (8 ounces)

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup white wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp dried basil  (I used about 1/4 cup of fresh basil, chopped)
2 tbsp dried oregano (I used 2 tbsp fresh oregano chopped, and 1 tbsp dried oregano)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
9 cups chopped cored plum tomatoes 

Combine all ingredients, except tomatoes, in a non reactive pan.  Bring to a boil.  Add tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, pack tomatoes into hot jars leaving a generous 3/4 inch headspace. Ladle hot vinegar mixture into jar to cover tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot liquid. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down tightly until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.  Process 20 minutes in a BWB. 

I got exactly 7 half pint jars from my batch. 

So are you wondering what my stupid move was this week?  I inadvertently deleted my blog.  :::gasp:::  I was trying to consolidate a Google account, since I had to make one for my android phone.  I deleted an old account not realizing that it controlled my blog.  So, when I deleted my Google account, I deleted my blog.  I think I did that on Thursday, maybe Wednesday.  I discovered it yesterday.  Yes, it did send me into a panic, but luckily, I was able to restore both my account and my blog.  :::whew!!!:::  Needless to say, I'll be a bit more careful in the future.  :::shakin' mah head:::
Kobe, looking disgusted but tolerant
My oldest son loves to torment the big girls.  He picks up their 70 pound behinds, twirls them around, and then sets them back down.  I got pictures of their faces as proof that they do NOT enjoy this exercise.  HA!
Jordan, equally distressed, but also tolerant
Finally, I don't think I've posted many pictures of Skittles.  So, I'm posting one of her, too.  She was just groomed yesterday and thinks she is quite pretty.  Skits will be 13 on Halloween this year.  She's the matriarch of the brood. :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Cooking

I thought I'd show you the finished product for my Peach Butter.  It is excellent.  The blend of spices was perfect for the white peaches and made a lovely butter.  I've had it on bread and an English muffin so far.  It definitely is a repeat recipe.
My deck container garden is coming along nicely.  A ripe Hot Lemon Pepper is above, and below are a few of the Habanero Peppers, not quite ripe yet, but some are starting to turn a nice orange.
Below are my Big Boy tomatoes.  I wouldn't say I got the biggest crop off of the plant, but it is rewarding to eat something I've actually grown.
I've since harvested those tomatoes and have a few more growing.  It's not enough to even make 1 pint of tomatoes, but it's enough to add to a meal or salad.
I used the last of my garbanzo beans a couple of weeks ago.  Last week, I resorted to buying one can of garbanzo beans so I could have some in my salad.  Today, I cooked 3 cups of dry beans, making 6 to 7 cups of cooked beans.  As you can see, I spread them out in a single layer on a jelly roll pan and freeze them for 45 minutes before transferring them to a ziplock bag.  I love the flavor of freshly cooked garbanzo beans.  I use no seasonings in the pressure cooker when cooking them.  That gives me a lot of room for using them in different dishes.
Here is the last of Thursday's CSA box.  I still have to cook the gold beets, but that will be later in the week. I will fix the corn for tonight's supper. I found a recipe for Kohlrabi and Carrots fixed in a similar fashion to mashed potatoes.  I'm going to try that tonight as well.  And, I'll be making BBQ Tofu.  I found both recipes on and they look very good.
I roasted a (huge) bag of cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots (it took 2 pans to roast it all).  I added a red onion and half dozen or so of garlic cloves.  I'm making a creamy roasted soup.  I've made the soup before with cauliflower and sweet potatoes.
I cut 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh thyme from the plant on my deck, added a bay leaf, a quart of organic mushroom broth, 1 no-chicken bouillon cube, 2 1/4 cup water, and 3/4 cup of sauvignon blanc wine.  I let it simmer for 20 minutes or so, then I used an immersion blender on it to make it smooth and added 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (at a mere 40 calories per cup).
I did a taste test.  Nope, the soup wasn't doing it for me.  It was missing something.  It was savory, but not quite the right flavor. Sooooo ... I added about a teaspoon of mild curry powder, maybe a tad more.  VOILA!  That was the flavor I was looking for.  I'm a curry lover and this soup will now become one of my favorites.  The only thing missing is some big toasted croutons or a slice of crusty bread to dunk in it.

It's been a heavy cooking day.  I started the day by making my son pancakes for breakfast. :)  But, Sunday is a good day to cook and make a few things that I can eat during the week.
Jordan on the stairs looking for trouble out of the front door.
The weather is beautiful today.  The sun is out and it's a very comfortable 73º outside.  The windows are open and the entire family is enjoying the day.  Kobe begged me to stay outside in the backyard with her for a bit today.  So, I weeded around my flowers and hosta plants while Kobe chilled.
Kobe chilling in the back yard.
This is what Summer is all about.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cooking and Canning

It's been a month since I blogged.  WOW!  And that month has gone by quickly.  I took a vacation in Wisconsin for a week and have been tending to my deck garden.  OK, that's not exactly true.  My oldest son has been tending to my deck garden.  And he has done an excellent job!  My hot lemon peppers are turning yellow, my habanero peppers are turning orange, my Big Boy tomatoes are ripening, and I harvested a bunch of jalapeno peppers and the lone yellow bell pepper that my plant produced.

While on vacation, I made stuffed peppers.  I'm not a stuffed pepper fan.  I don't ever make them at home.  But, I did on vacation.  They turned out quite tasty, too.  Although, I'm not going to start making them all of the time.  Here's what I did.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

4 good sized green (or whatever color you prefer) bell peppers that will stand up
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 8oz. package of  baby bella mushrooms, chopped (can use sliced)
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipolte flavor
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb flavor
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 of a package of vegan crumbles
2 cups of your favorite marinara or other pasta sauce

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Slice tops (approximately 1/2") off of the bell peppers.  Chop up the tops of the bell peppers.  Put olive oil in a large skillet.  Warm and then add chopped bell pepper tops, onion, and mushrooms.  Saute until onions and peppers have softened and the mushrooms have released their water.  Add seasonings and vegan crumbles.  Saute until vegan crumbles are warm and have dried a bit.  Add marinara sauce; stir to blend.  Can top with shredded vegan cheese or Parmesan cheese.

Stuff each bell pepper and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet or cake pan.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
Besides making peppers, I had a serious craving for soup.  I had a package of Yves Veggie Chorizo  that I either needed to use or toss, so of course, I went looking to use.  I stumbled across Vegan Sausage and Kale Soup on Stacy Eats.  I actually had kale in the house as I've been getting it in my CSA boxes.  I didn't take the big stem out, which is one thing I would do if I use it for soup again.  Plus, I'd saute it longer so it was more tender.
The recipe is very simple and has a relatively short list of ingredients.  I used No-Chicken broth versus veggie broth and butter beans instead of Great Northern.  It was quite tasty and I ate it for a few days until the very last of it was gone.  I do confess to adding some fresh picante sauce to it and a couple of good shakes of my favorite taco sauce to kick up the spiciness.  It's a soup I'll make again, but next time, I'll probably use spinach.  I don't usually keep kale in the house.
The absolute BIGGEST pot I've ever owned.  It's HUGE!
Last weekend, I made Bread and Butter Jalapeno Pepper Slices and Patty Pan Squash pickles.  I've not made either of these before, so I'm be anxious to see how they turned out.  I say I'm anxious as the Bread and Butter Jalapeno Pepper Slices have to sit for a month before I can open them.  I'm not sure how long the Patty Pan Squash are supposed to sit, so I'm letting them sit for at least a couple of weeks.
I got the recipe for the Bread and Butter Jalapeno Pepper Slices from Darlene, the ULTIMATE canning person, in my humble opinion. Darlene is AH-MAZE-ZING!  :::smile:::  She can answer virtually any question about canning or dehydrating.  Here is Darlene's recipe for Bread and Butter Jalapenos.  If you like canning and dehydrating or want to start canning or dehydrating food, please join the Yahoo! Group, Food Preservation, Drying, Canning, and More.  Hands down, this is the friendliest group that I belong to.  The people there are completely supportive and helpful.
Bread and Butter Jalapenos
Yield: about 7 Pints
This makes a very tasty and spicy addition to almost any meal. For those that 
are daring substitute the jalapenos for habanera peppers but BEWARE these are 
HOT. Use gloves handling any peppers!!!

4 lbs jalapeno peppers
2 lbs onions
3 cups vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp mustard seed
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp ginger powder

Wash and cut jalapenos and onions into thin slices and cold pack into jars.

Place remaining ingredients in large saucepot and bring to a boil.

Pour hot mixture into jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. 
Adjust headspace if needed by adding more hot mixture. Wipe rims. Adjust caps.

Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.

NOTE: Best after letting sit for 1 month but can be used after 2 weeks.
While I have only made the jalapeno variety, I have a TON of habanero, tabasco, and hot lemon peppers starting to ripen on my deck.  I may try this with a combination of the three peppers.  That same Sunday, I threw some Roma tomatoes in the oven to slow roast at 200º overnight.  The recipe for Slow Oven-Roasted Roma Tomatoes stated they should cook 10 to 12 hours.  I left mine in about 11 hours and they were WAY overcooked.  :::sigh:::  I'll try it again, but I'll do it during the day so I can check on them.  I've also thought about just throwing them into the dehydrator instead of the oven.  That may work as well.
On Wednesday, I decided to make Blueberry Butter.  The recipe states it should take 6 hours or so to cook.  Well, MINE took a whopping 23 hours to cook.  I can't believe it took that long, but my crock pot is 40 years old and cooks at a very low temperature on the Low setting.  I only used about 3 1/4 cups of sugar and I doubled the spices.  I used an immersion blender to smooth out the butter just before I ladled it into half pint jars.
The Blueberry Butter turned out great.  It's thick and smooth and spreads like a dream.  It's a tad on the tart side, so it's not over-the-top sweet.  I'll make it again, only next time, I'll use the High setting on the crock pot to cut the cook time in half.

I discovered I like a vegetable I have hated since I was a kid.  That vegetable is beets.  OK, I can't say I like the red variety, as those are the ones I have hated since childhood, but I can say I have tried gold beets and I like those.  I got some in my CSA box on Thursday.  I scrubbed them, cut them in 1" chunks, and then tossed them with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  I roasted them at 350º for about an hour.  They taste a little like sweet corn to me.  It's an odd flavor and one I don't quite trust, but they are really quite good.  I'll be ordering them again this week.  My CSA also offers red beets, but I'm just not ready to try those yet ... maybe one day.
Soooo ... that brings us to today.  Today, I am making Peach Butter.  I am loosely following a recipe from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and a recipe for preserves posted by Darlene in the Yahoo! Group.  I took the skin off of about 3 1/2 pounds of peaches (submerge them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then in ice water for 2 minutes and the skins slip off).  Then, I chopped the peaches and threw them in my crock pot.  I added 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 cups of sugar, 1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon (or a bit more) of freshly grated nutmeg, and 2 teaspoons of homemade vanilla.  It's cooking on HIGH heat :::chuckle::: and I'm hoping it will be done sometime TODAY!  :)  I'll let you know on that.
Finally, I am roasting some Zuma Grape Tomatoes.  These grape tomatoes are orange in color and very tasty.  They are sweet, a touch sweeter than red, and I love eating them like cherries.  However, there were way too many for me to eat before they spoiled.  So, I decided to roast them at 275º for 2 hours.  I washed them, cut them in half, and tossed them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and a sprinkle of both fine sea salt and pepper.  Once done, I'll throw them into a ziplock baggie and put them in the freezer.  I'm going to use them for pasta dishes, pizza, garlic bread, etc.  Nothing better than having slow roasted tomatoes ready for consumption.
I bought the girls a new bed last weekend.  I'm leaving you with a picture of Kobe thoroughly enjoying the new bed.  All three of my dogs sleep in it on a regular basis.  Nice to see that they all like it so much.  Hope you are having a great summer!