Too many tomatoes?

UPDATE – Recommendation:  Here’s an added tip to the following directions for skinning fresh tomatoes and freezing before use to make a delicious pasta sauce.  If you prefer to ‘seed’ tomatoes (as much as you can’ before making sauce, then BEFORE FREEZING, cut out the stem area, cut each tomato in half across the middle, and the most of the seeds will squeeze right out.  (I found it harder to get the ‘seed’ the tomatoes once frozen whole, even after defrosting before use.  Hope that helps!

Now onto the original post:

Summer gardens are the best!  Fresh fruits and vegetables that pop with flavor and keep you coming back for more and more.  As much as we love them, we usually find that they are all ripe ready in large bunches – so what to do with all of them?  Here’s an idea for garden fresh tomatoes that can be put ‘on hold’ until you’re ready to make your next batch of homemade pasta sauce:  Fresh Frozen Peeled Tomatoes!

Picture of Fresh Frozen Peeled Tomatoes

Fresh Frozen Peeled Tomatoes

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil
  • Have a large bowl of ice water on hand
  • Rinse tomatoes and cut a small ‘X’ opposite the stem end
  • Drop in batches of 4-5 into boiling water
  • 45-60 seconds later you’ll see the ‘X’ start to split up the sides
  • Remove tomatoes to ice bath with slotted spoon
  • Skin will easily peel away!

Line a sheet pan with parchment or wax paper and place peeled tomatoes on sheet pan.  Place sheet pan in freezer until tomatoes are frozen.  Transfer to freezer bag and store for up to 6 months – defrosting when you’re ready to make fresh homemade pasta sauce!

Ciao e Buon appetito!

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Stuffed Peppers – Turkey-Quinoa… in a Crockpot – yikes!

Okay, I admit it.  Never had, nor never wanted a crockpot.  I love to cook, so I never saw the point.  Given that, we got one this year and I did make a delicious Chicken Chili Verde.  Although that worked well for that purpose, I still couldn’t think of any reason to use, or want to use, a crockpot.  As my dad and I talk about food and cooking most every time we talk, he told me he had just made stuffed peppers in a crockpot.  (That surprised me because I never knew the crockpot to be his go-to cooking method.) . I guess I was hungry when we talked because that sounded so good to me, and I knew I’d make enough for a few to go into my freezer pantry.   Today being Father’s Day, though my father is 3,000 miles away, was the day I put crockpot stuffed peppers to the test!  Results:  AWESOME!

3.5 hours on high in the crockpot, then 20 minutes in the oven at 400F (I couldn’t help myself because to me it’s all about the golden color and added texture/taste.) . Here you have it, healthy, delicious, nutritious Turkey, Quinoa, Spinach, Feta, Crimini Mushroom, and Diced Tomato stuffed peppers!

(I had enough extra stuffing left for about 4 more peppers, so I made those directly in the oven.  Same result, but with 2+ hours with lots of checking, covering/uncovering, removing liquid, etc.)

Still not a crockpot convert, but it will be my go to cooking method the next time I’m craving stuffed peppers!  (Stuffed peppers allow you the freedom to put whatever you want in them, so get creative and have fun.  If you want more information about these peppers, let me know.)

Buon appetito!


8 Home-Cooked Meals for under $20?? No Problem – I’ve got you covered!

As I’ve shared many times before, I spend a few hours in the kitchen every weekend and we’ve got fresh and delicious home-cooked meals throughout the week ahead – and beyond!  Today’s adventure in the kitchen (and this blog post) isn’t about a new recipe I’ve been waiting to try, but all about my regular routine of ensuring I can always answer the question, “What’s for Dinner?” (and lunch, too, for that matter!)

So what does 8 meals for under $20 look like?

Chicken Salad Roasted Chicken goat-cheese-basil-chicken

 

 

 

 

I reserved 4 of the chicken breasts to prepare the Goat Cheese-Basil Chicken that will go in the freezer for easy weeknight meals (2 [2 serving] meals) that can be on the table in 45 minutes.  Then I roasted the remaining 2 chicken breasts with all the dark meat pieces.  The roasted breast meat (and a few of the thighs) were used to make the Chicken Salad (Quart size container – Easily 4-5 servings), and the rest of the dark meat pieces to be served alongside a salad, rice or potato, for another 2 [2 serving] meals.  (I saved the back bones to make chicken stock, too!)

Although I’ve shared each of these food prep ideas before, I thought it worth another post to remind everyone that fresh and delicious home-cooked are always within reach – at a fraction of the cost of going out or stopping at the drive-thru window on your way home from work.

I’m reminded about what I wrote in the “About Joe” section of this blog nearly 7 years ago, and it’s still true today.  Here’s an excerpt from that section:

I’ll write about shopping smart and turning leftovers into delightful new creations.  I’ll share ideas on dishes that can be made ahead and placed in the freezer to ensure a hot healthy meal after a long day at work.

I believe everyone can enjoy home-cooked meals at a fraction of the cost of going out – and feel good about what you’re doing for yourself and others in the process!  Food is a great way to share a part of yourself – and it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.

Thanks for joining me on my adventures in the kitchen, and I hope you’re inspired to try some of the recipes and prep-ahead ideas to reduce stress, eat fresh, and enjoy great food together!

Buon appetito!

 

 

 

 


Garden Goodness – Fresh Roasted Tomato Sauce

Nothing says summer like fresh veggies from the garden!  When the abundance of cherry/grape tomatoes is too much to eat now or even give away, why not make this quick and easy (1, 2, 3) fresh roasted tomato sauce?  You can enjoy some of it over your favorite pasta today – and freeze in small containers to enjoy when you’re yearning for a taste of summer!

  1. Wash and dry (remove stems) cherry/grape tomatoes
  2. Toss with olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper on a sheet pan – roast at 400F for 30-40 minutes until the tomatoes start to caramelize and the juices escape onto the pan.  Cool slightly after removing from oven.
  3. Blend in food processor, little by little, along with a couple of garlic cloves, a handful of Italian parsley, a few tablespoons of olive oil, and more kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

That’s it!  Enjoy over your favorite pasta and bite into summer goodness!

Truly is as easy as 1, 2, 3 – and 4 – Buon Appetito!

Bowl of Fresh Picked Heirloom Tomatoes

Fresh Picked Heirloom (Cherry) Tomatoes

Sheet Pan of Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes

Roasted Heirloom (Cherry) Tomatoes

Picture of Roasted Heirloom (Cherry) Tomato Sauce

Roasted Heirloom (Cherry) Tomato Sauce

Picture of spaghetti with fresh roasted tomato sauce

Voila!


Apples into Applesauce!

You’ve heard of turning lemons into lemonade, well here’s a quick and easy way of turning apples into applesauce!  Every have apples sitting on the counter long beyond their ‘shelf life’?  Or apples that were pushed to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten?  What did you do?  Compost?  Trash? STOP!  Turn your old (or new) apples into homemade delicious applesauce!  It’s as easy as 1) Peel and chop apples, 2) Place in small sauce pan on stove top with a little water (1/4 cup?) and a dash or two or cinnamon, 3) Boil/simmer until tender.  At that point, I use a potato masher to turn them into a chunky applesauce.  (You can keep cooking and blend cooked apples to get more of a pureed consistency, but when it comes to homemade, I like the chunky style.)  Enjoy!Chopped Apples

Picture of pan on stove with chopped apples and cinnamon

Chopped Apples/Cinnamon

Picture of homemade chunky apple sauce

Homemade Apple Sauce

 

 


Simple, Delicious, Roasted Chicken Salad

After all the years I’ve been making Roasted Chicken Salad, I realized it’s never made an official appearance on this blog.  I’ll share the way I go about making it, but it’s up to you how you’ll make it your own.  It’s really as easy as 1, 2, 3:

Picture of oven roasted chicken breasts

1.  Roasted Chicken Breasts

Picture of Chopped Carrots, Celery, Walnuts, and Dried Cranberries

2. Chopped Carrots, Celery, Walnuts, and Dried Cranberries

Picture of Chicken Salad with Crackers

3. Chicken Salad – Ready to Eat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started with 4 bone-in/skin on chicken breasts.  (You could use boneless/skinless, too, but I like the flavor from the bone and skin during roasting.)  Drizzle each with olive oil and sprinkle with salt/pepper.  Roast in a 400F oven for about 50-60 minutes.  You’ll know they’re ready when they’re golden brown and the internal temperature is at 160F.  Let cool, then remove meat from the skin/bone and chop into small size dice.  Set aside in large bowl (for mixing.)

Chop about 1/2 cup (2 stalks) celery, 1/2 cup (2-3 small) carrots, and a handful each of walnuts and dried cranberries.  Add to the chopped chicken.

Mix chicken and ‘chopped goodness’ with about 1 cup mayo (or combo of 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt,) about 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, and about 1/4 tsp. kosher salt.  (Since the chicken breasts were seasoned with salt/pepper, you’ll want to add additional to your taste.)

That’s it!  Simple and Delicious.  Eat with your favorite crackers, on your favorite bread as a sandwich, or put a scoop on top of a salad.  Now matter how you enjoy it – you’ll be making it again and again!  Enjoy!


Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Easy, Delicious, and Nutritious!

It’s Sunday again, and for those of you who have been following this blog for a while, you know I usually invest a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon in the kitchen so I’m sure to have delicious and nutritious lunches and dinners throughout the week ahead.  One item I typically pick up at the store each week is a tub of hummus to have with any variety of raw vegetables, pita chips, or pretzels.  As I was reaching for it at the store this morning, I remembered that I used to make it myself many years ago, so I turned to the canned food aisle and picked up a coupe of cans of Garbanzo beans, instead!

Roasted_Red_Pepper_HummusMaking your own hummus couldn’t be easier.  Open and drain the Garbanzo beans and empty into a food processor.  Smash 1-2 cloves of garlic and throw that in, along with the juice of 1/2 lemon, about 3 TBSP Tahini (or peanut butter works perfectly well) and a pinch of salt.  To make the Red Pepper part of the hummus today, I added about 1 roasted red pepper (that you’ll find in a jar by the oils, mayo, and mustard section in your grocery store) and a pinch of salt.  (I also added in a couple of dashes of Aleppo pepper flakes for a little bite!) As the food process is doing its magic, drizzle in extra virgin olive oil until the hummus becomes a consistency you desire.  Not too runny, not too thick!  Perfect to stick to the veggies, chips, or pretzels.  Have fun with this recipe.  The basic ingredient is the Garbanzo beans, some garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.  The rest is up to you!