Tag Archive: tomatoes

PIco De Gallo to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Let’s get this party started! I have several posts for Cinco de Mayo.

First, Cinco de Mayo isn’t, as many people think, Mexico’s Independence Day — that takes place on Sept. 16. Secondly, it isn’t even widely celebrated south of the border, though that’s beginning to change.

What Cinco de Mayo is is a largely American tradition, co-opted by alcohol companies, that’s based on an arguably miraculous military maneuver during the 1862 Battle of Puebla, when a ragtag group of Mexican militiamen defeated the invading French Army. It was a David versus Goliath moment and Mexicans on both sides of the border saw cause for celebration. Cinco de Mayo (Google)

May 5th – Cinco de Mayo – is a big deal in El Paso.  I think it’s an excuse to eat Mexican or Tex-Mex flavored dishes every meal for at least a week.  While enchiladas and tacos are good standbys I like to add those flavors to a regular meal.

I made a grilled pico de gallo and have used it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Very simple to make and it adds a little spice to any meal.

In Mexican cuisine, pico de gallo (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpiko ðe ˈɣaʎo], literally rooster‘s beak), also called salsa fresca, is a fresh, uncooked condiment made from chopped tomato, white onion, and chilis (typically jalapeños or serranos). Other ingredients may also be added, such as shrimp, avocado, lime juice or apple cider vinegar, fresh cilantro (coriander leaf), cucumber, radish or firm fruit such as mango.  (Wikipedia)

Grilled Pico de Gallo

I like the lime. When the pico de gallo is used with warm dishes you can taste it just a bit. I like the acid. I have used red wine vinegar if I don’t have the fresh limes.

Now it is ready to use and will add such a nice flavor to eggs, veggies, or meats.  Here is one to get you started.

Zucchini Bruschetta

I like this dinner because it checks all the boxes for good for you and good flavor.  I don’t think I could ever be a complete vegetarian but I could stick with just having an occassional burger or steak.  This is a fast and easy weeknight dinner that requires just a little of everything and a LOT of zucchini.

Mid-Week BBQ

I guess I am still hungry for Fourth of July festivals as I woke up this morning craving BBQ.  Good thing that I know just the quick fix to cook all day while I am at work.  I’ll set up my crock pot and let it cook dinner.  Throughout the day I began to elaborate on the Tuesday night party.  Maybe I want some Mexican and something fresh and fruity too.  How am I going to get this all in one dinner?  That is how my kitchen experiments start.  I began to imagine the recipe below.  It was good.  Real good.  I have leftovers in case I need some more this week.

Pulled Pork Tacos with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

For the pork:

  • 1 pork tenderloin fat trimmed
  • 1 bottle of your favorite BBQ Sauce
  • 1 16 oz bottle of Dr. Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of chipotle chili powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Corn or Flour tortillas
  • Cheese and/or toppings

In the morning place all the ingredients through the salt and pepper into the crock pot and set to low.  Leave to stew for 6-8 hours.  Before removing from the pot fix the salsa (see below).

When ready to eat remove to pan and finish the shredding.  This should be very easy and almost done for you.  Serve with warmed tortillas, salsa and your favorite cheese.  I used Cotija.

 

 

For the salsa:

  • 2 pineapple rings
  • ½ of a red onion finely diced
  • 2 jalapeños finely diced
  • 1 cup of tomatoes finely diced  (I take mine as I get them from the garden, today’s crop was cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons of cilantro finely chopped
  • Juice from ½ a lime
  • Salt

Pre-heat your grill or grill pan to medium.  Spray with cooking spray and add pineapple rings.  Spray the top side with cooking spray and let cook for three minutes or until deep grill marks appear.  Flip.  Cook 2-3 minutes more to char the other side.  Remove from pan to a plate and put in the refrigerator to chill.  When they are about room temperature, cut into small pieces.

Add all of the fruits and vegetables to a bowl and pour lime juice in and stir.  Salt to taste.  Serve over tacos.

I grilled a few extra pineapple rings for dessert!

Sharing Salsa!

Sharing this week with Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

I think a lot of people have wonderful family recipes that they never write down.  It takes a lot of time to explain how to make something you have made forever and make it clear and correct so someone else can make it.  This is one of those recipes.

I have a friend at work who has the most wonderful mother.  She is a dedicated mom, grandmother and great-grandmother.  She sounds like a lively lady and makes her daughter laugh a lot.  She cooks dinner for Nelda and her boys a lot of days.  I never had the pleasure to come home to a home-cooked meal, unless I got up early and got things started in the crock pot.  That is such a nice thing to do.  I always hear them talking about dinner as the day goes on, so I check out their menu selections.  Sometimes I get a good idea.

One day she shows up at the office with a jar of salsa her mom made.  I immediately had to come up with a meal to serve this with.  So I made enchiladas, rice, tostados and a salad.  I shared some of the salsa with my daughter too.  It was so good, and so much better than the bottled stuff off the shelf.  Very fresh and you know what is in it.

This would be easy and good to make for your party snacks.

Grama Jo’s Salsa 

  • 10 jalapenos
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 – 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 –  8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 -4 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup water (maybe a little more)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic salt

Boil the jalapenos in a pan with a lid until they are soft.  Cut off the stems (leave the seeds in) before you put them in the blender.  Add the onion chunks, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic cloves, the water, salt and garlic salt.  If you want to cut back on the salt you can eliminate the 2 teaspoons of salt, but not the garlic salt.  Blend until chunky.  Don’t make it into a puree or you will have a salsa smoothie, Grama Jo says.

Put in clean jars with lids and store in the frig. (It won’t last very long around hungry spicy food lovers.)  It makes a lot.  Everyone is addicted to it.  Enjoy!

Thanks, Jo for sharing your secret recipe with us.

Hooray for the Red, White and Blue!

I’m rather patriotic.  I tear up at the Star Spangled Banner unless some twit is singing it on tv at a football game or NASCAR.  A certain amount of dignity is required, I think.  I love 4th of July parades, fireworks displays and bands.  The Boston Pops can keep me in tears. My high school band was a very special group of students.  We all felt pride when it came to the National Anthem and our school song.  I’m going to get to be a part of that in September at a high school reunion at homecoming.  (Hanky alert!)

I had to come up with a food for the 4th and chicken is my “go to” food.  Plus it is white.  Blue potatoes.  I never thought I would cook blue potatoes, but what better opportunity to use some of those little things.  Paula and I agree – potatoes are one of our favorite foods.  These little tiny things can’t have too many carbs in them.  Red is for tomatoes and red onions.  This is a simple recipe.

Red, White and Blue Chicken Skewers

  • 1 package of chicken tenderloins cut in half or 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in strips lengthwise
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 large red onion, cut in 8ths
  • 8 small blue potatoes, left whole
  • Salt and pepper
  • Low-fat salad dressing or your favorite marinade

I pre-cooked the potatoes in the microwave for about 4 minutes on a glass plate. Spread  the chicken with low-fat Italian salad dressing.  You could certainly make your own dressing.  Then I used metal skewers or you can pre-soak some wooden skewers for the kabobs.

To assemble the kabobs:

  1. Onion
  2. Chicken
  3. Tomato
  4. Chicken
  5. Potato
  6. Chicken
  7. Tomato
  8. Chicken
  9. Potato

This should make 4-5 kabobs depending on the length of your skewer.  Mine were about 10” and it made 4 very full kabobs.

After assembling salt and pepper and add an additional herb.  I chose a garlic/herb seasoning with no sodium.

I put these on a hot grill and cooked for about 7 minutes on one side and about 6 minutes on the other.  Only turning once so the tomatoes don’t fall apart.  Use tongs and turn them by using a piece of the chicken to hold on to as you turn.

Additional salad dressing can be added to one side before you turn and on the other side after turning.   Remove to a platter and allow to rest while you assemble your salad.

Sunday Night Garden Supper

Almost too pretty to eat....ALMOST!

Sunday Night Garden Supper

This blogging has really stirred up memories of the good food my momma used to make.  That and the bumper crop of tomatoes, squash and peppers I have this year.  Meals and Memories is what it’s all about with me some days.  Nothing is more pleasurable than picking squash, green peppers and tomatoes and then deciding what to do with them all.  Tonight it caused a walk down memory lane with my momma’s black cast iron skillet, yellow squash, corn meal, a bell pepper and onion.  Next was some pepper steak with some browned round steak, bell peppers, onions and the rest of the tomatoes I have picked this week.  My momma always had tomatoes on the window sill above her kitchen sink in various stages of ripeness.  I have a corner of my kitchen counter in the same shape.  With the heat they were all about to be too ripe.  So I diced them up and made a rich pepper steak with them.  Now if I could just get my hands on a Pecos cantaloupe I’d be perfectly fine.

It has been so hot I don’t think I’ll have too many more tomatoes for a while.  The weather man is forecasting rain, but I won’t quit watering until I see it for myself.  Probably on the 4th of July parade we will have a shower or two.

Pepper Steak

  • 1 small round steak tenderized
  • Olive oil
  • Flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bell pepper, medium dice
  • 1 yellow onion, medium dice
  • 3-4 medium tomatoes, medium dice
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ cups water or beef broth

Cut the meat in 1” pieces (I have mine tenderized at the butcher).  Lightly toss in flour to coat and brown in the olive oil.  I used about 2 tablespoons.  It depends on how much meat and flour you use.  Once browned on both sides remove and add the onion, bell pepper and red pepper flakes to the pan.  When they have started to soften add the tomatoes, water or broth, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.

Simmer this on medium heat until all the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened slightly from the flour.  You may want to thicken it a bit more with some corn starch and water.  Serve over rice.

Skillet Squash with a Corn Meal Crust

  • 3-4 medium yellow squash
  • 1 bell pepper
  • ½ medium yellow onion
  • Corn meal
  • Vegetable oil

Slice the squash into bite-size slices.  Dice the bell pepper and onion into about the same size pieces.

Heat the oil in the cast iron skillet and just before adding the squash toss them in a little yellow corn meal.  This won’t form mush of a breading on the squash, but it does form a crust that browns in the skillet.  Don’t turn it until it begins to brown.

Drain on paper towel and serve on a warm plate.

Happy old fashioned eating from my memories to your table.

Dusting this one off for:

 

Homage to Ouiser-Artichoke and Mushroom Stuffed Tomatoes

Almost too pretty to eat....ALMOST!

One of my favorite movies is Steel Magnolias.  I love Ouiser!  This is one of my favorite conversations involving her:

Ouiser – Tomatoes. (put’s em in Clairie’s lap)
Clairee – Don’t give these all to me!
Ouiser – Somebody’s gotta take em. I hate em. I try not to eat healthy food if I can possibly help it. The sooner my body gives out the better off I’ll be… I can’t get enough grease into my diet.
Anelle – Then why do you grow them?
Ouiser – Because I’m an old Southern woman and we’re supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt. Don’t ask me those questions. I don’t know why, I don’t make the rules!

Ain’t that true?  And what do I have?  Tomatoes.  So, today’s post is about tomatoes.  I was trying to think of something different.  What could I do with big tomatoes?  Stuff them of course!  How boring would another chicken or tuna salad be though?  Here is my attempt at creative thinking.  This was filling and tasty with the added bonus of leaving the kitchen nice and cool on a hot summer’s day.  Don’t worry if you aren’t old enough to grow tomatoes this big.  The grocery store has a fabulous selection right now.

Mushroom and Artichoke Stuffed Tomatoes

  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can of water packed artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 6 ounces of sliced mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ of a small onion finely diced
  • 1 small pepper finely diced (I used Jalapeno but Bell would work)
  • 1 cup of croutons
  • 3 tablespoons of crumbled bacon
  • 2/3 cup of cheese crumbles (I used Cheddar but blue might be good too)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • ½ cup of salad dressing (see recipe below or use your favorite)

Salad Dressing

  • 1/3 Cup olive oil (I used Chipotle Olive Oil from Con’ Olio)
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Supremely Salad seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl combine artichokes, mushrooms,  onion, pepper, croutons, bacon, cheese, parsley and dressing.  Stir to coat and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.

While the other ingredients mingle slice off the top and scoop out the inside of your big tomatoes.  I used a knife to cut out a big chunk and then I used my melon baller to get all the way through the seeds.

After an hour pack the stuffing into the two tomatoes and serve.

I thoroughly enjoyed this!  Some of the rules serve a good purpose, Ouiser.  I’ll have to watch that movie again soon.

I am dusting this one off for This Week’s Cravings on July 30th!

 

Garden Feast Day 2-Portabello Mushroom “Pizza”

Almost too pretty to eat....ALMOST!

Today’s fresh vegetable feature is Portabello Mushroom Pizza.  What I love is picking almost all the stuff that goes with this meal from the garden.  I literally just bought the mozzarella cheese and mushrooms for dinner tonight.  You may be aware that I am a very low carb eater.  This dish makes me feel like I am eating lasagna and I don’t even miss the pasta.

I started by getting my already made pizza sauce from my first crop of tomatoes out of the freezer to defrost, then I grabbed my biggest bowl possible and headed out to the garden.  What a sight!  All of the dirt digging and bug fighting is worth it.  I picked lettuce, dill (I love a little fresh dill in my field greens), tomato and cucumber for a salad and grabbed some fresh basil for garnish.  I quickly snipped a few early okra and pulled up the last of my onions.  I did a thorough bug check on the tomato plants, then I hurried back to the air conditioning.  No way was I going back out into that heat today.  Grill pan it is!

Portabello Mushroom “Pizza”

  • 4 large portabello mushrooms
  • 8 Tablespoons of pizza sauce
  • Mozarella cheese 4 slices or 1 1/3 cups shredded
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • ¼ cup torn basil for garnish

Pre-heat the grill pan over medium high heat and baste with olive oil.

Gently pull out the mushroom stems and scoop the gills from the inside of the mushroom using a spoon.  Slather the mushrooms with olive oil and place face down on the grill pan.  Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the mushrooms are starting to flatten as the moisture cooks off.  Flip and cook for another 5 minutes to lightly char the top of the mushroom.  Flip one more time for just a minute to cook off the last of the moisture.  Remove from grill pan and place top-side down on a baking sheet or broiler pan.

Assemble the “pizza” by topping each mushroom with two tablespoons of sauce and a slice or 1/3 cup of mozzarella cheese.  Then slip into the oven and broil until cheese is golden and bubbly.  Top with torn basil to garnish and serve.

 

Cool and Savory Chicken Salad

Cool and Creamy Chicken Salad

I’ve been growing herbs forever.  Do I use them like I should?  No.  But a new resolution has been made to snip them and add them to salads, soups and vegetables this summer.  I’m into growing the plants to see how lush and full they get.  But you know what I’ve found?  If I snip them they actually get fuller!  Not only that, but they are much less expensive from my pots than that plastic package at the store!  Shock!  I have a new Bay Laurel bush that has put on a couple of new leaves already.  Wouldn’t that be fun to have my own fresh bay leaves for chicken soup?  I’d love it.  Stay tuned.

I roasted some chicken for soup and decided I needed a salad too.  I wanted to keep it simple.  Not too many ingredients.  (I’ve been under the weather and I think my system said fresh greens were needed.)  I have this lettuce and spinach growing in the garden.  I don’t know why I was hesitating to pick it and use it.  It was remarkably fresh and crisp.  I picked basil, mint, chives, leaf lettuce and spinach and chilled it all in the frig after a rinse.  Made the frig smell great.  Basil and mint – love it.

Chicken Salad

  • 1 small chicken breast (skinless)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • mayonnaise
  • 1 stalk celery
  • ½ cup green grapes (halved)
  • 1 tablespoon snipped chives
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 3 cups fresh greens (your choice)  I used spinach and lettuce
  • 1 diced tomato or halved cherry tomatoes

Prepare the chicken by drying it well and coating it with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast the chicken on a baking sheet for 30 minutes at 400°.  When cooled dice into small pieces.  Add the chives, celery and grapes to the chicken and toss with the mayonnaise and a squeeze of fresh lemon.  Set in the refrigerator to chill until time to serve.  I added a bit of salt and pepper to this.

Prepare a bed of greens.  I used leaf lettuce, spinach, fresh basil and mint.  Place the chicken in the center and surround with tomato pieces.  I could have even served some grapes on the side.  I served some crispy pretzel crackers with mine.  I just like a little salty crisp with a salad.

It was cool, fresh and tasty for a Saturday night supper.

Waiting on Good Stuff from the Garden….

I have been doing a lot of garden work lately.  No time to cook!  I am imagining one of the best dinners I have had fresh from the garden. It is so much fun to get some basic flavors and add what is growing right in your own dirt. The plants inspire me. This is simple and so tasty.  Summer veggies are so good and good for you too.

Veggie Stuffed Bell Peppers

  • 2 red bell peppers cut in half through the stems
  • 16 cherry tomatoes yellow and red
  • 1/4 cup black olives chopped
  • 5-6 small peppers and chiles red, yellow and green
  • 2 tablespoon capers with the juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1-2 cloves sliced fresh garlic
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons EVOO
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 slices bacon

 

Halve the tomatoes. Thinly slice the peppers and chiles (remove some of the seeds) and garlic. Mix all the ingredients except the bacon. With your hands squeeze all the filling to make a little juice.

Sprinkle the inside of the cleaned bell pepper halves with a little kosher salt. Fill each half with the pepper/tomato filling. Drape a slice of bacon over each half. Pour any remaining juice over the peppers. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 30 minutes at 350° to steam the peppers, then uncover and continue baking to crisp up the bacon.

Meanwhile grill a baguette that has been sliced lengthwise until crisp. Rub with a peeled clove of garlic. Serve each pepper half on a slice of toasted bread and drizzle any remaining juices over the peppers.  With a sharp knife pierce through the pepper half to allow some of the juices to soak into the bread.

I served this with fresh sliced tomato and basil leaves and a small chicken breast grilled. (This is when I toasted the bread.)