Weeknight tomato jam and stupid complicated BLTs!

 

Look at the beautiful colors on those backyard tomatoes!!

Look at the beautiful colors on those backyard tomatoes!!

My abundance of tomatoes continues.  As much as I enjoy tomato and cucumber salad, it’s fun challenging myself to come up with interesting things to do with my bounty.  I’ve been toying around with canning a bunch of tomato jam to preserve and enjoy throughout the year.  First I must settle on a recipe to use- there are tons on the internet.  The main components are tomatoes (obviously), lots of sugar, spice and vinegar or some other sort of acid.

Tonight I decided to play around with the flavor combinations on my own to make a small version of a stove top jam.

Jam components

Jam components

1.5 cups chopped tomato

1/2 medium red onion

1/3 cup white sugar

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 pepper

 

Dump everything in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Once the mixture has begun to boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until the tomatoes have fully burst and the sauce has reduced by half.

For my first try this was pretty tasty.  Next time I’ll reduce the sugar a bit and maybe substitute a portion of it with honey or brown sugar.  I’ll also increase the acidity- perhaps some lemon zest or an increase in vinegar.

Once my tomato jam was cooling I got to work on my fancy BLT.  Why mess with a BLT?  I’m not sure, just to make thing more complicated it guess!

BLT componets

BLT componets

Fancy baguette instead of sandwich bread.  Goat cheese and avocado instead of mayo.  Tomato jam in lieu of tomatoes!  I used a spring mix and “artisan” bacon, whatever that means!!

As a side note, I used Metropol bread.  I love bread, I love this bread the best of all.  Maybe it’s just because it’s the first “fancy” bread I was introduced to as a kid, but I can honestly say nothing beats this stuff!  My oldest friend in the world- who has lived in big cities with access to fantastic bakeries all over the country would agree.  Every time she comes back to Eugene she requests that a Metropol baguette greet her first thing.

I mention this because as much as I love this bread, I didn’t want to fill up too quickly on it.  I carve out a bit in the middle- saving the insides for breadcrumbs in the future.  My new hollowed out pieces are easier to stuff.

Bread, missing its middle

Bread, missing its middle

Time to make the BLT!  I used the avocado to coat one side and a goat cheese and tomato jam mixture for the other.

Ready to be assembled

Ready to be assembled

Add bacon and lettuce and it is ready to eat!

Fancy BLT

Fancy BLT

Yum, yum, yum!  As I mentioned before the jam could have used a bit more acid.  Maybe a big slice of tomato would have put this sandwich over the top, but as it was it certainly was tasty!

Do you preserve food?  Favorite recipes?

Do you ever dress up everyday foods?

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Stuffed Anaheim Peppers

I was a vegetarian for many years, almost a decade.  I’m still not a big meat eater, but on occasion I get a really strong craving.  Unlike most antidotes it wasn’t bacon that did me in, the culprit was rotisserie chicken.  I was at a office warming party out of town.  I had driven five hours to be there for my dad’s big day.  Before I could even congratulate my dad, the smell of chicken that had been slowly roasting all night caught me.  What happened next is blurry in my mind but my mom claims to have found me, fifteen minutes later, in a corner with chicken.

These days chicken is on the bottom of the list for meat choices but I still have a soft spot for rotisserie chicken.  That is how I found myself bringing home an entire chicken this weekend.  I know it is impossible for me to eat the entire thing before I start getting worried about it going bad, but I just couldn’t resist.  In an effort to not waste most of the bird I picked all of the meat off the bones and froze 3/4 of it.  I also froze the bones to make homemade broth once the weather cools.  With the remaining chicken I decided to make stuffed Anaheim peppers.

First up prepare the stuffing.

To be stuffed!

To be stuffed!

Clockwise from top left- 3/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup red onion diced, 1 cup chopped chicken (I used white and dark meat), 1 jalapeno, 1 cup cilantro (I am a big cilantro fan!).  Depending one your taste you could go chicken heavy or tomato heavy, whatever you like!

I added these to one can of black beans and 3/4 grated sharp cheddar cheese.

Beans and cheese!

Beans and cheese!

I had picked up some Anaheims form a Mexican market down the street.  I took off the tops and removed the seeds.

Ready to be stuffed

Ready to be stuffed

I packed these as full and as tight as I could get them prior to baking.  I knew I would need some sort of liquid to put in the bottom of the baking dish to help steam the peppers.  Broth?  That sounded too boring.  I considered a can of Mexican style chopped tomatoes.  Then a jar of homemade roasted salsa verde given to me by a friend caught my eye.  I must say, good call!  It had a smokey flavor and was full of heat, but not an overwhelming amount.  I spread the salsa on the bottom of my baking dish to just barely coat it.

Ready for peppers

Ready for peppers

I arranged the stuffed pepper in to the dish and covered with foil.  Forty to forty five minutes at 350 degrees.

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

Check that the peppers have softened and then broil for five minutes to get a bit of char on the skin.

Topped with more salsa verde and sour cream

Topped with more salsa verde and sour cream

Sorry for the dark picture!  This was awfully tasty.  I’m not sure how much credit I can take for it and how much was the super salsa.  This meal worked well for me because I was able to pull out a pepper (or two) at a time to put under the broiler after the initial bake to make single serving portions.

What do you do with rotisserie chickens?  Any favorite stuffed pepper dishes?

Sabih

I’m finally blogging!  The last few weeks it has been 90+ degrees out almost nonstop and cooking has not sounded like fun.  Salads, cheese and crackers, smoothies have been my meals.  I did cook a couple of times, even photographed my efforts but nothing was blog worthy.  My lasagna wasn’t bad.  The blueberry muffin bread was okay.  But neither was good (or bad!) enough to share.  My dinner last night however, fantastic!

Sabih with a side of roasted sweet potatoes and a tahini and chili dipping sauce!

Sabih with a side of roasted sweet potatoes and a tahini and chili dipping sauce!

Several of my posts have been recipes from the cookbook Jerusalem.  I was initially drawn to the cookbook for the beautiful photography, the pictures made my mouth water!  I was a bit intimidated by the recipes because they seemed long and involved.  Additionally I wasn’t familiar with a lot of the ingredients.  I dove in though and despite the long and seemingly complicated recipes with a whole new set of flavors for my palate – I’ve found the book accessible and rewarding.  In addition, I love the forward to each recipe.  It’s a little cultural history that makes me even more excited to try the recipe.

Sabih, a street food that was originally developed by Iraqi Jews who settled near Tel Aviv in the 1950s, draws on influences throughout the Middle East.  The best part about it (for me) is that all of the components can be prepared in advanced and easily assembled for a quick dinner.

Okay – enough rambling, let’s get to the food!  Over the weekend I prepared all of the pieces of the recipe.  I first cut the eggplant in strips and sprinkled them with salt and left them alone while I got to work on my chopped salad, dipping sauces and  hard-boiled eggs.  A simple chopped salad of tomato, cucumber, green onion, parsley (from my garden!), lemon juice and olive oil.  The sauces are a bit time-consuming but they make the dish.

Condiments!!

Condiments!!

The recipe calls for mango pickle, which I didn’t have but I did have pilpelchuma, a chili garlic (20 cloves) paste that I had made (red/brown on left).  On the top is a tahini sauce.  Finally I made Zhough, a fresh, herby, spicy paste.

After all the sauces I got back to my eggplant.  I took a paper towel to gently wipe off the excess salt then I pan-fried them in sunflower oil until soft.  At this point it was close to eleven on Sunday night so I packaged everything up, went to bed and looked forward to dinner all day on Monday.

Assembly was a breeze.  I put a pita in my toaster oven and topped with a layer of eggplant, I only toasted for a couple of minutes, long enough to take the chill off but not actually cook.  I peeled and quartered my egg.  I pulled the rest of the ingredients out of the fridge.  Stack stack stack!

Ready to stack!

Ready to stack!

There was about half of the tahini sauce (tahini with lemon juice, garlic and water) left so I put a teaspoon of the red chili paste in and mixed it up.  It was perfect for some sweet potato wedges that I had roasted over the weekend.

A closer view

A closer view

So good.  I’m going to make myself round two right now.

Would anyone be interested in the detailed recipes for the red and/or green chili paste?  I can blog about those, there are so many uses but don’t want to bore you.

What is your favorite street food?

Just Throw it on the BBQ

I got lucky this weekend, not only did I have a good friend visiting from out of town- said good friend is also an excellent photographer.  Don’t get used to the beautiful pictures you’ll see with today’s post, I’ll be going back to the camera phone soon enough.  We had a plan to make a pizza with roasted butternut squash and a side salad of beets.  At eleven in the morning this sounded like an excellent idea.  I had all the ingredients on hand and it was a grey, cool day.  By five the sun was beating down and we were both enjoying soaking up vitamin C in my backyard.  BBQ it was!  But we were still going to have pizza and beets.

We got the BBQ going and prepped the beets while the coals got ready.

Bee Salad Ingredients

Beet Salad Ingredients

The beets were sliced about 1/3 of an inch thick into discs.  Next time I’ll go up to about 1/2 an inch.  Before grilling we lightly coated the beets in olive oil and dusted with salt.  Fresh mint, goat cheese and reduced balsamic vinegar were prepped to garnish.  Onto the grill!

Beets Cookin'

Beets Cookin’

Cooking times will vary, depending on the heat of your coals and thickness of your beets.  I would suggest checking after 5-6 minutes and every couple of minutes after.  These got a little crisper than I would have liked on the first side.  I had set a timer for 10 minutes, 8 probably would have been ideal.  The other sided cooked for 6 minutes.  We got going on the pizza while the beets cooled.

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough

I cheated.  No homemade dough this time around.  I had some herb pizza dough from Trader Joe’s that I took out of the freezer this morning.  The texture was a little bit runny after it thawed so I kneaded it with a little flour and it came right back to life.  Now onto prepping our toppings.

Pizza Toppings

Pizza Toppings

For veggies- yellow bell pepper, red onion, roasted red pepper, kale and tomato.  More cheating, store-bought marina and sliced fresh mozzarella.  This is where grilling pizza gets a bit tough.  After rolling out the dough we had to be sure that we’d be able to transfer it to the grill and get it off without sticking.  I rolled out the dough and put it on a very well floured baking sheet so that it could easily slide off.  I also dipped a paper towel in olive oil, grabbed it with long tongs and oiled the grill, be careful it is hot!  I was able to slide the dough on the grill easily.

We crossed our fingers and hoped to be blogging about this pizza, not ordering take out.  After 4 minutes, I was able to easily lift the dough with a metal spatula.  I flipped it, raw side down onto the baking sheet (more flour so it would slide off again).  Now we got to topping the pizza on the already cooked side.

Pizza Topping

Pizza Topping

We finished with a bunch of kale on top and back onto the grill it went.

Kale!  The foil ball is a bulb of garlic roasting.

Kale! The foil ball is a bulb of garlic roasting.

 

This cooked for another 4 minutes or so until the cheese was melted.  I had put the pizza right over the top of the coals but it might be wise put the pie off to the side so that the toppings can cook without the crust getting too crispy.  You’d want to check and turn on occasion so it cooks evenly if you use this method.

Done!

Done!

Moment of truth…the dough was cooked all the way through!

All Dressed Up!

All Dressed Up!

Pizza and beets, not the most obvious combination but oh so tasty.  I guess this isn’t really a recipe post, more of a cooking method post.  It was fun to take the cooking outside and the barbecue really added an added layer of flavor to everything.  A note on time, by the time I got the briquettes going and prepped all of the food this took a bit longer than cooking inside, but the experience and enjoying the summer weather was worth it.  Time to eat.

Dinner is Served

Dinner is Served

Have you ever made anything on the grill that is traditionally done inside?  How was it?

 

Miso Dressing Chopped Salad

I know, I know another salad brought to you buy Nicole.  I’m just taking advantage of all the great veggies while they are in season.  I generally make a honey mustard dressing for my salads but I recently bought a light miso paste that I wanted dress up (sorry couldn’t help myself!).  I already had quite a few veggies that I thought would complement the miso nicely, but I was stuck on what kind of protein to add to make this more of an entrée.  I wanted to add fresh snow peas and right next to the peas in the produce section was tofu, the perfect protein for this salad.  Even better the dressing could double as a marinade.

Let’s start with prepping the tofu.

Tofu Wrapped in Paper Towel

Tofu Wrapped in Paper Towel

When I am baking or frying tofu I always start by buying extra firm.  I drain all the water and then I wrap the tofu in paper towels and then put something heavy on top of the block to extract even more water.

Bowl with Veggies and Water on Tofu

Bowl with Veggies and Water on Tofu

I thought this was a great idea.  Soak my veggies in ice water (to crisp them up) and place the whole container on top of the tofu.  Not so smart, as the tofu drained the bowl shifted and I ended up with water everywhere.  I switched the bowl out for a heavy plate and got to work on my dressing.

Miso Dressing

Miso Dressing

I had read a variety of recipes for miso dressing but just decided to wing it, tasting as I went.  Three cloves of finely chopped garlic (I’m a big garlic fan, so you might want to hold back a bit), 1.5 tbsp mild miso, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 1/2 tbsp soy sauce (no added salt needed!), 1/2 sesame oil, just under 1/2 cup canola oil and pepper to taste.  This was tasty, but missing something.  I added 1/2 tbsp unpictured agave syrup (honey would also work well here).  In the future I think I would cut back a little on the soy and sesame, they are both really strong flavors. Mix well and you have a dressing and marinade all in one.

I opted to bake the tofu in the marinade since I was short on time.  With more time I probably would have thinned the marinade with a bit of water, and marinated the tofu for a couple of hours before pan frying (I like the crispness of pan frying).  As it was, I was hungry and it was already getting late.  I put some marinade in the bottom of a pie pan, stacked the tofu on top, put more marinade over it and baked for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Tofu Ready to Bake!

Tofu Ready to Bake!

While the tofu baked I prepped all of the veggies.  Again, if I had more time, I probably would have cut the veggies into match sticks  so it would look prettier but as it was hunger took over and I went for simple slices.

Veggies Prepped

Veggies Prepped

Clockwise from top left: 1/3 cup bell pepper, 1/2 an avocado, three radishes, a handful of snow peas (I’m always blow away by the high per pound price of snow peas, but this handful only cost about 40 cents,they are light!), four cherry tomatoes, 1 small cucumber, two small carrots (I got these from the farmers’ market so sweet!!), and three green onions.

I pulled the tofu out of the oven to cool and prepared the salad.

Salad in a Bowl

Salad in a Bowl

The veggies topped a baby kale and spinach mix.  I only used two small handfuls of greens but more could easily be added to bulk this up.  Time to finish up the salad!

Ready to Eat!!

Ready to Eat!!

This is how it looked before I mixed it all together.  Tofu, chow mien noodles, black sesame seeds and additional dressing.  This salad was surprisingly filling.  I also loved all of the different textures.  I’ll continue to try to perfect the miso dressing and this will be in regular rotation this summer!  As a I had more than half of the tofu leftover and I’m looking forward to it with lunch tomorrow.

I have a bacon and fresh pea salad (with bread, I am a convert!) I’m thinking of sharing next.  I also picked up the most recent Rachel Ray magazine and was going to see if the “thirty minute meals” really take thirty minutes.  What would you like to see?

 

Dinner for One!

After cooking for two for years I suddenly faced only cooking for myself- with the exception of all my dinner parties!  Most work nights it’s just me.  For a couple of months I lived on salads, sandwiches, and bean burritos.  That got old after a while and I realized that taking the time to actually cook for and nourish my body was just as satisfying (if not always as much fun) as cooking for someone else.  Cooking for one does pose challenges though, especially since I’m not a huge fan of leftovers.  Most recipes are meant to feed at least two and often 4+ people.  Some are easily adapted but other things, like casseroles are really difficult.  I had to look outside cookbooks and get creative to come up with some new dinners for one.  I also had to invest in a small oven safe dish.

To make it a little more difficult tonight, I didn’t want to make an additional trip to the grocery store so I had to work with my pantry.  Specifically, I wanted to use a sweet potato that had been on my shelf for a while and some fresh eggs that a co-worker brought me.  I decided on a baked hash- three layers.

Layer One, Prior to Prep

Layer One, Prior to Prep

I diced all of the veggies, fairly small for a quicker cooking time.  Half a sweet potato, 1/3 cup red onion, three mini sweet peppers, and 2 cloves of garlic.

Diced!

Diced!

Prepped and ready to be mixed with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  I put this in the oven at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

While the potato mixture baked I prepared the other layers.  I shredded 1/3 sharp cheddar cheese for the middle layer (this could be omitted if you want to avoid dairy).  I also chopped 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, four green onions, and half an avocado for the top.  I seasoned them with salt and pepper.

Toppings

Toppings

After forty minutes I removed the potatoes from the oven and cracked two eggs on top.  I also sprinkled the cheddar all around.

Ready for Final Bake

Ready for Final Bake

I baked the casserole for 15 minutes.  My eggs ended up over hard, not too hard, but harder than I like.  Next time I’ll go for closer to 12 minutes so the yoke will still be a bit runny.  I set the table with my tomato salad as well as Greek yogurt and hot sauce.

Toppings Ready

Toppings Ready

Depending on dietary restrictions, preferences, and hunger this can be served with bacon and/or toast.  I have no restrictions, like all food, and was hungry after missing a proper lunch due to a busy day at work- so I had both!

Yum

Yum

What do you eat when you’re alone?  Do you enjoy leftovers?  Favorite one serving meals?

Tigua Indian Beef Stew

This recipe is brought to you by Nicole.

My diet is primarily vegetarian but when I get a craving for beef I listen to it.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I was also having a friend over who loves spicy food and is pretty health conscious. I’ve made this Tigua Indian “Bowl of Red” that I found in the New York Times in the past and have always been pleased.  It calls for 5 tbsp of chili powder and uses eye of round beef (eye of round is very lean and also relatively inexpensive), so it fit the bill of being spicy and somewhat healthy.

The cook time is fairly lengthy but prep is a breeze.  Probably best for a weekend night but if you don’t mind eating late it can be done after work.  Let’s get the ingredients ready!

Bowl of Red Ingredients

Bowl of Red Ingredients

Two pounds of round cut into 1/2 inch cubes.  I left the raw meat handling to my friend, look at those knife skills!  I chopped one white onion and three cloves of garlic.  I gathered all of the spices- 5 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano, 1 1/2 tsp cayenne.  The recipe also calls for 1 tbsp cumin.  I was out.  I don’t know how this happened.  Cumin is my favorite spice so I’m always buying it but I failed to last night, assuming I already had a ton at home.  I know what’s at the top of my grocery list.

I started by sauteing the onion and garlic on medium heat until just soft, about five minutes.  I increased the heat and added the beef.  Once browned, I dumped in all the spices, one (15 oz) can of tomato sauce and 1 1/2 cup of water.  I brought it to a boil and then reduced to a simmer for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  At the end of the simmering I dissolved 2 tbsp masa harina in 1/2 cup warm water.  I added the mixture to the chili and let it cook for an additional 5 minutes, the masa harina acts as a thickening agent and also adds a subtle toasted corn flavor.

I think this chili would be great served over rice or with a thick slice of sweet corn bread.  But because my day had lacked vegetables I decided to go with my spicy slaw.

Cabbage Base

Cabbage Base

Half a head of cabbage goes a long way!

Slaw Ingredients

Slaw Ingredients; Photo Credit ASV

I make a version of this slaw quite often.  It has a ton of flavor and works as a nice side to BBQ, tacos, and chili!.  I opted to chop these ingredients for time’s sake but a julienne makes for an elegant looking slaw (if slaw can be elegant…).  Half of a red onion, two carrots (these were grated), three green onions, half a bell pepper, half a cup cilantro, 2 jalapenos (I left the seeds in for added heat), and three sad radishes that I pulled from my garden too soon.  I made an apple cider vinaigrette- the juice of one lime, 1 tbsp honey, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Finished Slaw

Finished Slaw

I love how fresh and colorful this looks.  A red bell pepper could be swapped for the green for even more variety.  I really like that this salad can be dressed and then stored in the fridge for a couple of days.  The cabbage holds up nicely and the flavors intensify.  Time to eat.

Chili and Slaw

Chili and Slaw

I served my chili with a bunch of plain greek yogurt to counteract the heat.  Not the prettiest picture but it was a really tasty dish.  Next time, I’ll wait for a weekend to make this so that the chili can cook a little bit longer on lower heat.  The beef was a little bit tough.  I will also be purchasing cumin.