Friday, August 30, 2013


When I go to a restaurant, I just love the salsa.  My kids love the salsa.  I will tell you though that they like my fire roasted salsa the best.  Recipe below.  But if you don't feel like firing up the grill and want a salsa- more along the lines of the Mexican restaurant- then try this relatively quick salsa.  I know there are a ton of recipes on the Internet using canned tomatoes and I will try those this winter in case I run out of my salsa again.  But for now, when tomatoes are just starting and I am waiting to do my salsa on the grill, this recipe rocks the house.

I have made it three times already. Disappeared. Snap.  Just like that.

Relatively Quick Salsa

8 good sized tomatoes (each yielding a cup or more)
salt to taste
1 jalapeño (more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
2 tablespoons lime juice (if you don't have lime juice, substitute white vinegar)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup minced onion ( I use dry minced onion for this)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4 green onions

Fill a sauce pan or deep fry pan with water about three quarters full.  When the water comes to a boil, scald the tomatoes for about two minutes or less.  The skin will split, this is your cue to remove them. Once cooled a little (unless of course you have teflon hands), peel the skin off and core them.  Gently squish out the seed pods and extra juice.  You can find these between the meaty parts of the tomato. 

In a blender, blend the jalapeño, garlic and cilantro. Add a tomato and belnd.  Empty into a bowl.  Begin adding tomatoes to blender. Grate, don't puree.  You are looking for a pretty fine chop not liquid.

Once you are all done, slice the green onion and add it to the salsa, along with the cumin and lime juice.  Salt to taste.  Grab your tortilla chips and have at it.  Also tastes phenomenal on rice.

Lori's Fire Roasted Salsa
Inspiration from Chevy's Restaurant
smaller version in parenthesis

(6) peck of tomatoes
(1 or 2) 3 or 4 jalapeños (red is better but green works as well)
(1 cup) 5 Spanish onions, skins removed
(1/4 cup)1 bunch of cilantro about 1 cup chopped
(1 teaspoon) 1 tablespoon kosher salt
(2 tablespoons) 1/2 cup distilled vinegar
mesquite or hickory wood chips

Soak wood chips and place a few over a hot fire. Roast the tomatoes, onions and jalapeños. The skin should be blistering and splitting on the tomatoes before you remove them. The more you smoke the veggies the better they taste. Remove the skins off the tomatoes and jalapeños too (if you have the patience). Discard the water from the tomatoes. Place all the smoked vegetables in a large pot, including vinegar and salt and cook for about twenty minutes. Remove from the heat and process in the food processor. Add chopped cilantro.

If you are canning them, pour into sterilized jars with about 1/4 inch head space. Place lids and bands on. Cold pack for thirty minutes.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tomato Pie

Here's something I have always wanted to make.  Tomato Pie. It was on the list to try.  Shiver me timbers- it was awesome.  You need a cooler day to make it though because it bakes at a high temperature in the oven.  Lots 'o' heat.

You need a pie shell and I had one around because I made peach pie a week or so ago.
She had it for breakfast.  Don't judge me- this is a rare kind of thing.

Yes, my pie shell shrunk a little.
I used my tomatoes from the garden.  To the right is a lone eggplant plant and in the forefront is a lone jalapeño bush.  I have ended up with too many jalapeños in the past so I decided on one bush.  Just enough to make salsa.
Tomato Pie
This recipe is for a nine inch pie plate, use more to fill it up if necessary.

1 baked pie shell crust
2 cups + tomatoes, sliced thinly
1 cup onion, finely minced
1/4 cup basil, sliced thinly
3/4 cup of mayonnaise
2 cups grated cheese, like mozzarella
couple dashes of hot sauce
s and p 


After you bake your pie shell, set it aside. Preheat oven to 450F.
Cut tomatoes and work the seed pods and juice out as much as possible.
Sprinkle the bottom of the pre-cooked pie shell with minced onion. Spread the chopped tomatoes over the onions. Sprinkle the sliced basil over the tomatoes.
In a medium bowl, mix together the grated cheese, mayonnaise, Tabasco, a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread the cheese mixture over the tomatoes. Place in oven and bake until browned and bubbly, about 25 to 45 minutes.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Biscuits and Breakfast

Breakfast around our house is usually a fairly simple affair.  I usually have an egg or two and  aslice of taost.  The girls usually have cereal or toast or eggs.  And once in a while my husband or I make pancakes.  That is usually on a Sunday morning.  This morning however, we did breakfast in style.  Some home made biscuits, sausage from a locally made sausage place and some eggs.  DEElicious!

I used this recipe from Fine Cooking for the biscuits.

This recipe at Fine Cooking
by Ruth Cousineau from Fine Cooking Issue 124

8 oz. (1-3/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. table salt
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup cold, well-shaken buttermilk

In a large, wide bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size lumps.

Using a silicone spatula, stir in the buttermilk just until the flour mixture is moistened. Do not overmix; the dough should just come together, and it will be sticky.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and gently knead 6 to 8 times, dusting lightly with flour if needed to keep it from sticking.
Make Ahead Tips

The flour and butter mixture can be refrigerated in a zip-top freezer bag for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 1 month. If frozen, thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

On a floured surface, pat the dough into a 4x8-inch rectangle. Using a floured chef’s knife, cut the dough into eight 2-inch-square biscuits. Carefully transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.

Bake until golden-brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack until warm, about 10 minutes, before serving. 
Calories per serving: 190 (8 biscuits)

Here is my favorite simple breakfast in the summer.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Dill Pickles

I couldn't resist another peck of those tiny little cukes at the market.  It was a great price and they were fresh and delicious looking.

If you want to buy these types of cucumbers and are planning to can them then you need to do it pretty soon after you get them.  The skins are much thinner on those smaller cukes so they go bad fast. 

We ate some and the rest I made into dill pickles.  It has been a long time since I canned them so we will see how they hold up over time.  I looked at a lot of recipes before I decided on which one to use.  I wanted them to be crisp but should I use alum or this other method I found of soaking the cukes overnight in an ice water bath.

Here is the recipe I ended up using.  I added a bit of spice to some of the jars.

Harris’s Grandmother’s Pickles
1 quart water (4 cups)
2 quarts apple cider vinegar (8 cups)
1/4 to 1/2 cup pickling salt

4 pounds of cucumbers
1 clove peeled garlic
1/4 teaspoon alum
1 teaspoon dill seed or fresh dill weed
a slice of hot pepper if desired 

Prepare canner by filling about halfway with water, cover and bring to a boil while you get everything ready.  This way by the time you are ready to process, your canner will be ready.  It takes a long time for it to come to a boil.

To prepare brine, boil all the brine ingredients in a saucepan until it comes to a boil. 

Using a glass measuring cup ladle the hot vinegar mixture over the pickles, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. This is the area between the top of whatever mixture there is in the canning jar and the very top of the canning jar.  Tap jars on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles, and then wipe down jar rims with a damp cloth.  Put on the lids and rings and tighten them.

Process them to seal the jars. To process pickles, bring water in your canning pot to a boil, and make sure each jar of pickles is covered by water by at least an inch.  Boil the pickle jars for 15 minutes.  Remove with a jar lifter and let cool on a towel.  After an hour or two, as the jars cool they should start “popping” and sealing.  Run your finger over each lid to make sure it has sealed, and this may cause any that haven’t sealed to seal immediately. If a jar doesn’t seal at all, refrigerate it immediately and eat those first.

*Remember to cut off the bud end because it will continue to ripen the cucumber- makes for soft pickles.  Nobody likes a soft pickle.  Sigh.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Snickerdoodle No Bake Bars

Love these!  And apparently other people in my home did as well.  Gone in no time.  Need I say more?


3 1/2 cups quick oats
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Prepare an 8 x 8 pan by lining it with a sheet of waxed or parchment paper.  Let paper hang over the sides.

In a bowl combine oats, flour, salt, cream of tartar and cinnamon together.  Set aside. In a saucepan combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup together.  Heat ove medium high flame until it boils.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Yes, it will bubble up but it wont come over the sides.  Pour liquid mixture into dry mixture and stir to combine completely. 

Pour into prepared pan and flatten with the back of a rubber spatula. Let cool.  Remove from pan by lifting up the sides of the paper.  Place on cutting board and cut to desired size.  I do small squares. 

This is fabulous to pack into your child's lunch!  You know whats in it- you can't beat that!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Beet Greens and Freezing Greens for the Winter

This past weekend I bought some beautiful beets at the market.  I have to ask farmers now if they are GMO or not. I hate that.  Anyway, the person before me did not want their greens.  Bummer for them.  I dont know if they realized that you can eat beet greens.  Full of iron and nutrients, just like any other green out there.  It was fortunate for me.  I do use it in my borscht but you can put it in other soups and casseroles as well. 

I brought it all home and put it up for winter.  You know, when all the vegetables in the supermarket look worn and tired.   I can pull out the greens I froze- kale, collard and beet greens.  It will pack a summer nutrient punch smack into the heart of our winter eating.  I am sure I will appreciate it so much.

Freezing greens is easy peasy.  All you do is wash them (I wash them twice because they can be somewhat sandy), trim them up and through them in boiling water for two minutes.  Drain, put in an ice bath.  Cram them into some container- I used Ball plastic freezing jars this time.  And freeze them. Done!
Yes, you can use these stalks- unlike kale and collard greens that have woody stalks. Will turn your soup a lovely shade of pink- but then so will the green part.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Flavored Oils and Vinegars

In Rochester (NY) there is a gold mine of a place called F. Olivers.  They sell oil and vinegar.  Yup, that's it.  Let me tell you, I think they have got the market cornered with their oil and vinegar.  They have flavored white balsamic and regular balsamic, aged balsamic along with flavored oils.  The flavors are amazing.  They are not paying me to say all this, I am saying it to tell if you live in the area or are visiting the area, this is a worthy place to stop.

I bought two white balsamic vinegars- Coconut and Grapefruit.  And two flavored oils- Persian Lime and Roasted Walnut.  The aged balsamic is wonderful but I do have to say that my balsamic reduction works well for my taste buds.

I actually like the grapefruit so much straight up that I keep taking sips of it just to enjoy that amazing flavor.

If you dont live in Rochester or Canandaigua (their other loaction), then you could try some of these recipes.  I totally am trying the raspberry one.

Raspberry Vinegar from the Kitchn
you can make other vinegars using the same idea

Herb Vinegars from Whats Cooking America
along with lots of tips on what tools to use and what not to use

Make your Own Flavored Oil from Food Network
a good article and suggestions on how to use it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Magic Bars


On Saturday we were invited to a picnic.  On Friday, I made these luscious magic bars.  My plan was to bring them to the party.  But alas, fate had other plans.  A health issue arose, nothing serious mind you- just one of those things and we could not go.  What to do with all those magic bars?  Well, they are called magic bars, right?  The reason, I believe, that they are called magic bars, is because they have this ability to disappear.  Seriously!  Now you see 'em, now you don't, kind of a thing.  Fortunately, they do disappear because for the most part (aside from two of them) I have been able to resist their siren calls.  My kids and even my husband who does not eat sweets (by his own self sacrificing nature)- ate them.
Delicious- see how they disappear?
Magic Bars

12 ounces ( 1 1/2 sticks) butter (with salt -if you have unsalted add about a half of a teaspoon to your melted butter)
3 cups graham crackers crumbs
1 1/4 cup sweetened coconut
2 cups milk chocolate chips

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a 13 x 9 pan with parchment paper so that it hangs over the side a bit. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter.  Press down into pan.   Bake in oven for about ten minutes.  Remove from oven and drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over top of crust.  Sprinkle the combined mixture of chocolate chips, coconut and pecans over top.  Press down mixture with the back of a fork.  (I failed to do this but no worries). Bake 25 minutes. Remove and let cool before you cut into squares.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Low Sugar Loaded Oatmeal Cookies

These are low in sugar.  If you are looking for a sweet cookie, this is not your cookie.  If you are looking for a low in sugar, high in flavor kind of cookie, this is a winner.

Loaded Oatmeal Cookies

Loaded with good stuff, not sugar.

2 sticks or 8 ounces or 230 grams butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup molasses
2 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanuts
1/4 cup craisins

Cream together the butter and sugar, beat until light.  Add in molasses and vanilla.  In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, combine cinnamon, flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix into wet ingredients.  Blend until combined.  Add oats, raisins, chocolate chips, peanuts and craisins to the bowl and mix in with a rubber spatula.

Make dough balls and place on cookie sheet.  Flatten a little. Bake at 350F for about 10- 12 minutes per batch.

About 115 calories per cookie if you make 42 cookies.  If you make more or less, take 4845 (which is the total calories for the recipe) then divide by the number of cookies you have.  So if you make your cookies real small and you get 80 cookies then 4845/80=  61 calories.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Kale Chips

I thought I had posted this a few years ago but I guess I didn't.  I know I made it and enjoyed it.  Apparently I forgot all about it until one of the ladies at the farmers market reminded me of it.

Her advice after eating is:  Check your teeth afterward - they may be green.

Kale Chips

Toss 4 cups of cut and cleaned kale with about a tablespoon of oil.  Place in a preheated, 400F oven.  Remove when toasted.  Salt or season anyway you like.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Senate Bean Soup

You know when it is cold... wait it's summer here in the Western hemisphere.  Why am I talking about soup?  Well, here in Upstate NY, it has been a bit on the chilly side.  It's all relative.  After 90 some degree days and going to the 70's and high 60's, it feels downright chilly.  So I made soup.

I had a nice ham bone left and decided to make some Senate Bean Soup.
This is what happened the other day.  Freezing hail coming down in droves.  There were streams going down our driveway.  It was piling up like snow.
my poor plants

Senate Bean Soup

1 ham bone
2 bay leaves
2 cup Navy beans that have been soaked in water over night
1 cup onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, chopped*
s and p to taste

The night before you make this soup, place 2 cups of dry Navy beans in a crock pot and cover with water, generously with water.  Over night the beans will soften considerably and in the morning they will have abosrbed quite a bit of the water.

Drain.  Fill crock pot with water again, covering the beans by an inch.  You can stick a finger in and just lightly touch the tops of the beans.  If the water comes up to your first knuckle, then it is a perfect amou nt of water.

Add in all the other ingredients and cook on low for most of the day in a crock pot for 6 to 8 hours.

*If you dont like your carrots mushy then you can leave them out.  Before serving saute them in a pan until tender and add them to the soup.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cocoa Shake

Seems like a lifetime ago but I use to be in Diet Workshop.  I remember drinking lots of Alba shakes to get past my sugar cravings.  I kind of liked them.   Do they even still sell these?  Hmmmm.  Well, yes, I guess they do.  Click here to order it. Wonder how I would feel about it today?

Seeing this recipe on Pinterest and the claim that it tastes like Wendy's Frosty, I knew I had to try it.  Well, I don't know what the people were sipping before they had one of these but I am sorry, it doesn't remotely taste like a Frosty to me.  Having said that, I would so make this again.  It is a light, chocolatey cold drink that goes down real nice on a hot day.  Kind of reminds me of the Alba shake.

Frosty Chocolate Drink

but not a Frosty

3 tablespoons cocoa
15 ice cubes
1 banana
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups almond milk

Whirl all the ingreidents in a blender.  You can add sugar but really it is fine without it.

Serves 3- a nice tall cool one!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Zucchini Bake

There really needs to be a better guide to zucchini  out there.  I have seen one cook book but I felt it came up short.  Maybe just because I did everything in it and was looking for ideas. 

Zucchini Bake

1 cup cooked quinoa
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup pecorino romano or parmesan
1 cup feta
6 slices of provolone or 3/4 of a cup shredded cheese
3 zucchini's or about 8 cups of sliced zucchini
2 cloves garlic minced
1 medium onion, chopped

Saute onion and zucchini in butter and olive oil or whatever you prefer. Season with pepper and salt. When it is just tender, remove from heat. 

While the zucchini is cooking beat eggs with a fork and add in milk and then feta and parmesan.

Spray coat a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray or lightly grease. 

Pour in half of the zucchini onion mixture.  Pour half of egg mixture over eggs. Sprinkle all of the quinoa over that.

Pour the remainder of the zucchini over that and then the last of the egg mixture.  Spread cheese over top.

Bake uncovered in a 350F oven for about 45 minutes until cheese is golden.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dill Relish


At the market last Thursday I found a beautiful peck basket filled with little cucumbers.  These little cucumbers make perfect pickles for canning. They are not as seedy and have great flavor.

I brought them home, washed them up and made bread and butter pickles and then on another day (because I am not a canning kamikaze like my Mother used to be), I made this relish.  I made a small batch.  This recipe could easily be doubled.  I only had enough to make one batch.  Unlike jelly recipes, this kind of recipe can be doubled. 

The beautfiul green color of the relish is made possible by turmeric.  In case you were wondering, most commercial relishes have food coloring in them.  So if you are wondering why yours is not bright green- thats wy.  This color is appetizing nonetheless.

This winter I will be grateful that I canned this because last winter I had to buy it from the store because I had none.  I use relish in more things now.  Like meatloaf, making my own tartar sauce, beans, and of course hamburgers and hot dogs.

This piece of equipment is great for making perfectly ground vegetables such as pickles.  The processor, although I love it for most things, can't compare to this old piece of equipment. Yes it makes a mess but it is totally worth it.

Can you say mess?
Dill Relish

3 1/2 pounds pickling cucumbers
1 1/2 cups onion,chopped
¼ cup pickling or kosher salt
3 cups white vinegar
¾ cups sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dill seed
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 teaspoons turmeric
4 whole pint-sized canning jars, lids and rings

Chop the cucumbers.  If you use a food processor, be careful not to over process because you will end up with a soupy mix.  Place the chopped vegetables in a large nonreactive bowl, such as glass or ceramic and sprinkle with the pickling salt. Stir well and allow to stand for 2 hour.

Drain the cucumber mixture in a colander; rinse with cold water and drain well.
In a large pan, bring the mixture, vinegar, sugar, garlic, dill seed, mustard seed, celery seed and turmeric to a boil over medium high heat. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Pour into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Seal with lids and rings and process the jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Makes 4 pints


I also wanted to tell you about this great blog I found called One Good Thing by Jillee.  An excellent site for some DIY and great how to tips on laundry and cleaning.  I also found that great recipe for English Muffin Toast on that website.  (I have made it three times.  Yes, four loaves three times.  Hey, we had company... well, actually my husband has been tearing through it like nobody's business).

Anyway, Jillee had this really nice giveaway and I WON!  Wahooooo.  An adorable pair of sunglasses.  Check them out!  They are from a company called Kameleonz