Friday, July 30, 2010

Tomato Basil Bruschetta

tomato basil bruschetta

{recipe courtesy of!}

DEFINITELY one of my favorite summer treats. Especially prepared with tomatoes from my garden! We've been eating a lot of this. Enjoy!

5-6 medium sized tomatoes, seeded, juices removed, and finely diced
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped finely
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 -2 teaspoons basalmic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil + extra for brushing on baguette slices
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Long baguette
Shaved parmesan for garnish
Take oven rack and place it in the highest slot (right underneath the coils). Preheat oven 450 degrees. Place tomatoes in a medium bowl. Stir in basil, garlic, vinegar, oil (feel free to taste and adjust here). Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside. Slice baguette into 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal. Place sliced baguette onto a rimmed baking sheet. Lightly brush the tops of each slice with olive oil. When oven has reached 450 degrees, toast baguette slices (in the highest slot of oven) for 5-6 minutes or until golden brown (keep an eye on them). Remove from oven and allow to cool. Take tomato basil mixture and scoop by tablespoonfuls onto the tops of each toasted slice. Finish with shaved parmesan. Serve on a platter. You could also serve the tomato basil mixture in a bowl with a spoon and dish onto the toasted slices at will. Tomato and basil mixture will last covered in your fridge up to 2-3 days.

Quick Pickles

These are very fresh, fairly mild tasting, and have a crisp crunch. Great for small batches. This is my go-to recipe when I want to use up what came out of my garden but don’t want to be canning all night.
These can be eaten after just a few days but have better flavor if you can wait a week or two (I’m not great at waiting!). They’ll keep in the fridge for about 2 months and the flavor will continue to develop as they sit.
  • Prep Time 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time 20 Minutes
  • Difficulty Easy


  • 1 cup White Vinegar
  • 8 cups Water
  • ¼ cups Pickling Salt
  • 4 heads Dill
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Mixing Pickling Spices
  • 2 leaves Bay Leaves
  • 1 gallon Pickling Cucumbers

Preparation Instructions

Combine the vinegar, water and pickling salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and set aside to cool.
Place the dill, garlic, pickling spices and bay leaves in each jar. Fill the jar with cucumbers, cut in halves or quarters if they are large.
When the vinegar solution has cooled, pour it over the cucumbers and refrigerate.

turkey burgers

Turkey Burgers

It’s still summer and we’re still grilling.  I just can’t get enough!  I use ground turkey quite frequently as a healthier substitute for ground beef, but I’ll admit that have always preferred a classic beef hamburger to any turkey burger I’ve tried.  Finally a recipe for turkey burgers came along that actually tempted me enough to try them.  I’ll be darned if these weren’t some of the best burgers we’ve ever made!  In fact I enjoyed them so much they went right back onto the menu for the following week – always a sign of a winner.  Most recently I prepared a full batch of patties (8 total), wrapped half of them in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer for a quick dinner at a later date.  They came in handy this weekend when I needed a quick meal for my dad, who tends to think it isn’t food if it didn’t come off the grill.  I’ll be sure to have these around as a freezer staple in the future.  (And just so you know, these buns freeze amazingly well too.  I always keep some in the freezer.)
Yield: 8 burgers
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. ground turkey
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
1 tbsp. minced fresh sage
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
Directions:Heat the coals of a grill to medium-high.  Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook about 2 minutes longer, until the onion is tender.  Remove from the heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl; let cool.
Once the onion mixture has cooled, add the ground turkey, salt, pepper and herbs to the bowl.  Mix well so everything is evenly blended.  Mix in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Form the mixture into 8 equal sized patties.  When you are ready to grill, oil the grates of the grill with additional olive oil or vegetable oil.  Cook until evenly browned and cooked through, about 4-6 minutes per side.  Serve with toasted buns, lettuce, tomatoes, and condiments as desired.
Source: adapted from Simply Recipes

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Granola from zuppas

Healthy Breakfasts No.3

July 27th, 2010 - by Steph

Do you love the idea of granola, but find that most versions are way to sugary for your taste? Me too! I’d rather save my sugar for a yummy dessert, not a breakfast cereal. I’ve been on the hunt for some time now for a substantia granola recipe that is not only full of a lot of “stuff”, but boasts no added sugar.  In fact, the only sweetener in this recipe is pure, maple syrup…isn’t that wonderful?  If you don’t want to invest in large bags/containers of all of these ingredients, hit the bulk section of your local grocery store (my local Whole Foods & Smiths both have one) and just purchase exact amounts of each required ingredient. You’ll
definitely feel the savings.
Fruit + Nut Granola (adapted from Real Simple)
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup unsalted pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups dried tart cherries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place parchment on baking sheet (located next to the wax paper and aluminum foil) and set aside.  In a large bowl toss the oats, almonds, coconut and pepitas with the maple syrup, oil and salt.  Pour evenly onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and make sure the mixture is evenly distributed.  Bake for 25 minutes (and not a minute longer!).  After removing the baking sheet from the oven, pour the dried cherries on top of the mixture and carefully toss.  Allow to cool before placing the granola in an airtight container (I like those glass lock containers from Costco).
A few notes regarding ingredients:
Pepitas: Nutty Guys makes great raw pumpkin seeds, or check out the Mexican food section of your local grocery store.
Unsweetened Coconut: The bulk aisle of your grocery store will likely carry this, but in case they don’t, Red Mill makes unsweetened coconut.
Pure Maple Syrup: The best price per ounce can be found at Costco with Target being a close second with their Archer Farms brand.
Dried Tart Cherries: Good versions can be found at Target (again, Archer Farms) or in the bulk aisle of your grocery store.  I found some great cherries at my local farmers market so take a peek there while they are in season right now.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cheddar Corn Chowder

Cheddar Corn Chowder

love soup. That is all there is to it. I have not always loved soup, but that is probably because “soup” used to mean something from a can that didn’t have much taste or nutritional value. Now that I’ve made several types of soup myself, I have come to realize what a great food soup can be when it is homemade. Tonight I decided to try this new recipe, another one from myBarefoot Contessa Cookbook. Like every other recipe I have tried from this book, it was delicious! Ben even says it now takes the place of his favorite soup – pretty good, if you ask me.
The only thing I dislike about Ina’s recipes is the huge quantities they make. This recipe serves 10-12 people normally, so I made a third of the regular recipe (not easy to do with these dimensions, by the way). Also, to make it a bit healthier, I used turkey bacon and reduced fat white cheddar cheese. I don’t have any real changes of my own, and I don’t think I’ll change anything next time either. This is good just as it is :)
Cheddar Corn Chowderserves 10-12
8 oz. bacon, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup flour
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. ground turmeric
12 cups chicken stock
6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 lbs.)
10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 lbs.)
2 cups half-and-half
8 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.
Source: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten and Martha Stewart, Clarkson Potter, 1999

Baked Potato Soup

Baked Potato Soup

Now that chilly, wintry weather is well upon us, the time is just right for cozying up inside with a nice filling bowl of soup.  I think this soup is just the thing!  It is positively delicious.  Thick and creamy, and with all the trimmings to make it like a baked potato (though I like this way more than a baked potato.)  And as with most soups, this makes quite a bit so you are sure to have leftovers for some subsequent yummy lunches.  This is nearly a meal in itself, but I’m sure it would be great with a nice tossed salad on the side.  It is actually quick enough for a weeknight meal if you plan ahead and bake the potatoes the night before.  This was a wonderful time saver and I’ll definitely do it again next time around.
Baked Potato Soup
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4-5 russet potatoes
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour, divided
6 cups 2% milk
2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup green onions, chopped
1/3-½ cup light sour cream
For topping:
Sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped green onions
Bacon pieces
Preheat the oven to 400° F.  Prick the potatoes with the tines of a fork.  Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle.  Scoop the insides of the potatoes into food processor, discarding the peels.  Pulse until the pieces are broken into small chunks.
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, melt the butter.  Add ¼ cup of flour to the pot and whisk into the butter.  Cook, whisking constantly, until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the milk and the rest of the flour.  Cook until thick and bubbling, about 6-8 minutes.  Mix in the potato chunks.  Whisk in the salt, pepper, and cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is melted.  Remove from the heat, stir in the green onions and sour cream.
Serve immediately.  Garnish with sour cream, cheddar cheese, green onions and bacon as desired.
Source: adapted from For the Love of Cooking