Tag Archives: Summer

Tomato Pie

23 Jul

I love tomatoes. They may be my favorite food. One time a doctor told me I may have to avoid acidic foods like tomatoes and I almost started crying. Turns out I didn’t need to after all, thank goodness!

This time of summer usually brings a bumper of the fruit so I opted to make a tomato pie. I’ve made them in the past but I wanted to try out a new recipe. This year I tried Paula Deen’s version and it did not disappoint.

  • 4 tomatoes (or 3 if you’re down South; we grow ’em big)
  • 10 or 12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 cup of grated mozerella
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of grated cheddar
  • about 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 cup of mayo (I’m not a big mayo fan which is why I didn’t use a whole cup)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 deep dish pie crust

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the tomatoes and place in colander in sink. Sprinkle with salt and allow them to drain about 10 minutes. After that, I still had pat down the maters with paper towels to sop up some more juice. This is to help keep the pie from being so runny.

Layer the tomatoes, basil and green onions in the pie crust. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, combine mayo and cheeses. Spread the mixture on top of the tomatoes.

Bake for 30 minutes. I put the broil on for just about 5 minutes to get my crust darker.

Slice and serve warm.

 

Mini Caprese Salads

18 Jun

Like most gals, I occasionally browse pinterest for inspiration. I ran across these Mozzarella and Basil Tomato Packets just in time for my Book Club meeting last month.

My basil plants are doing well this year (first time I’ve been able to grow them from seed!). It wasn’t quite tomato season here yet so off I went to the store for those and marinated mozzarella balls.The original post uses grape roma tomatoes but I found some sweet little tomatoes that I was drawn to at the grocer so that’s what I used.

  • container of tomatoes
  • container of marinated mozzarella balls
  • fresh basil
  • salt and pepper

Wash tomatoes and basil. Half and hollow tomatoes. Roll up and slice basil.

Place either an entire mozzarella ball in the tomato, or cut to fit. These were a perfect fit. Top with basil slivers and drizzle a little bit of the mozzarella marinade on top. Salt and pepper to taste.

 

Chickpea Salad

8 May

Most of my posts have links back to a page I used as a recipe guide, but this one, well, I pretty much copied everything from this blog post. Her photos are really good. I just love the rainbow. My wellness coaches at work are always telling us to eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies. (I am aware I’m not as good as a photographer.)

While I may copy her post, I did make this recipe my own.

  • 1 16 oz can of chickpeas, drained

    The rainbow of healthy ingredients!

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • dash of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of Mediterranean seasoning (picked this up at World Market)
  • dash of sea salt
  • about a third of a bag of salad lettuce
  • three plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • about a quarter of a red onion, diced
  • tomato-basil feta cheese
  • balsamic vinegar

In large pan, heat olive oil over medium. Swirl in the spices. Stir in the chickpeas. Cook for about 10 minutes until they brown.

Divide and assemble lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions onto two plates. Top with cooked chickpeas. Sprinkle with feta cheese. And then drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

So healthy, filling and delicious!

I added the balsamic vinegar as an afterthought because it tasted like something was missing. It was just what the salad needed. I may try adding it to the chickpeas instead next time.

Cucumber & Black-Eyed Pea Salad

8 Jul

Fourth of July was supposed to be a fun afternoon on the Black Warrior River with old and new friends followed by an evening with a delicious grilled-out potluck meal.

Well, the second half came to fruition. Mother Nature had other plans for the first. The fun in the water was rained out (we did need the rain) so we simply moved the fun indoors and under a gazebo.

My contribution to the potluck was a cucumber and black-eyed pea salad, adapted from an Eating Well recipe. With my selective tastes (aka, picky eater) and sometimes pure laziness, I always have to change the recipe a bit.

I wanted to make something with cucumbers from my garden, the only veggie I seem to be able to grow this year. I can’t even pick them before they pass their peak. I also wanted to make something that wouldn’t need to be heated up and cooked at my friend’s house.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of EVOO
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (about half a lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of peeled and diced cucumbers (about 3 medium to large cucumbers)
  • 1 can of black-eyed peas, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup slivered red onion (I ended up dicing it so that it wouldn’t overpower some eaters)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped black olives

Whisk EVOO, lemon juice, oregano and pepper in a large bowl.

Add cucumber, black-eyed peas, feta, onion and olives; toss to coat.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

It has a pretty mild flavor, but was a nice accompaniment to all the flavorful and rich meats, sides and dips.

And it was even better the next day after marinating in the dressing.

 

Semi-Fresh Semi-Skinny Mojitos

13 Jun

My mother came into town Friday for a short visit. She and my dad live in Huntsville, which is about 2.5 hours away — the right distance for nice weekend getaways.

While my mom is not much of a hard liquor drinker, I still wanted to try to make mojitos. It’s one of my favorite summer cocktails – cool, refreshing and  not too sweet (so I can stand to drink more than one!).

The amount of, and maybe the type of, simple syrup and club soda can make or break a mojito. This recipe I adapted from We Heart Minnesota skips the simple syrup all together, making it a rather low cal drink.

Last summer a friend gave me a root of her family mint (by family mint, I mean her plant was from a root of her husband’s grandmother’s mint), which I planted in my back yard. I know they say to keep mint in a container because it spreads like crazy, but I do better with plants in the ground. Plus, I want tons of mint so I can add it to my summer beverages. Ever since this mint took root in my yard, I’ve been itching to try to make a mojito. So here goes:

Mojito ingredients

Mint, limes, Splenda (that’s not sugar in that jar), club soda and rum

-Two limes (already squeezed lime juice optional)
-10-12 mint leaves
-Three shots of white rum
-Two teaspoons of splenda
-Club Soda
-Ice
-Two glasses

Wash and divide the mint leaves, saving two pretty leaves for garnish.  Put in each glass and muddle. Since I don’t have a mint muddler, I tore the leaves in half and used a fork to sort of stir and press the mint. I try to keep my kitchen contraptions to a minimum, but considering how much I love this drink, I may just need to get a muddler.

Wash the limes and cut each in half. Squeeze the juice of half a lime into each  glass. If you desire more lime, squeeze more lime, or like lazy, thirsty me, add some store-bought lime juice. Other than washing the mint (I get worried I’m bringing in some ants or other yucky bugs), this is what takes the most time. If you were to make you’re own simple syrup, I think that’s what’ll eat up your happy hour.

Stir in one teaspoon of Splenda into each mixture. Fill glasses with ice. I used a shot and a half in each drink (I like mine a bit strong). Top off with club soda and stir. Garnish with lemon quarter and mint leaf.

Mom thought it was a bit strong, but it was simply perfect to me! It’s just the right level of sweet and fizzy. I made a batch and carried it to my friend’s river party the next day. And I want one now! Just can’t get enough of these! No need for an intervention. Yet. 🙂

Mediterranean-inspired Cucumber Tomato Salad

3 Jun

Often I’ll throw together some ingredients I like and it usually ends up tasting pretty good. The other afternoon I concocted a nice, light summer dish using some food and herbs from my garden.

The night before I had chopped up a cucumber and mixed it with some tomatoes (I cheated and used petite diced canned — I know it’s not the same as fresh but it’s what I had on hand)  and threw in dashes of olive oil, red wine vinegar and sea salt, pepper and dried dill.

Looking through my cupboards, fridge and garden, I grabbed everything I thought might “go” with the salad.

I plucked two basil leaves, snipped some chives (one with a pretty chive flower) and grabbed kalamata olives and Mediterranean blend feta (plain feta will do) out of the fridge.  When I cut basil, I roll it up and slice it to produce those long slivers – they look pretty. I simply cut up the chives and one olive (they’re so flavorful only one is needed) into small bits.

I added all that to a bowl of my cucumber-tomato mixture and mixed it together. Then I topped it with the feta cheese.

It was simply delicious. And fresh, despite my using canned tomatoes. There’s nothing like a home-grown tomato. I don’t know if there’s something in the soil down here, or if the growers stores buy from add something to theirs, or both, or what.

This dish is very Mediterranean-inspired. Most Mediterranean food tastes like summer to me. And this salad is definitely going to be served often in my home this summer.

Bummer to bumper

1 Jun

This year, I’m trying to grow tomatoes (which I tried last year but only produced three small fruits), eggplant, cucumbers and squash. What’s a garden in Alabama without squash and tomatoes?!?

My first harvest of 2011: gladiolus flowers, squash and cucumbers

My first harvest of 2011 was last week when I picked a squash and two cucumbers. Yesterday I picked two more cucumbers and I still hadn’t eaten the first two, so I gave those to a colleague. My first bumper crop!

I need to find more easy and yummy recipes for cucumbers. I do like to use them as crackers — eating them with dips and chicken salad. And as soon as my tomatoes are ripe, I’m making tomato-cucumber salad.

For dinner last night I sliced up the squash and sauteed it with some olive oil, salt and pepper and topped it off with some Parmesan cheese. So simple and delicious! It’s hard to mess up squash.

The eggplant plants aren’t thriving like the squash and cucumbers, but they are hanging in there.

The greenhouse where I bought these seedlings, Brown’s, blew away in the tornado. They had the best flowers, herbs and other plants. And they were beyond reasonably priced. You could fill up a garden for the same price as one plant from a chain home improvement store. I cannot wait for them to rebuild.