Thursday, September 30, 2010

Warm Orzo Salad with Beets & Greens

We have really enjoyed having a "real" vegetable garden this year. It's been a learning experience for us & we have been successful in some areas & not so successful in others. Our basil, squash & cucumbers were completely devoured by some sort of night time garden intruders. Our tomatoes did just okay. Eggplants & bell peppers were perfect & bountiful.
Then, we had beets.
I planted them from seed. Some of them decided to grow & some of them did not. But, the great thing was, they weren't bothered in the least by any rodents, or insects, who considered our garden their own personal dinner table. So, while some of the beets didn't grow to an edible size, the greens were gorgeous. The most amazing bright green leaves, variegated with deep purple veins.
I harvested them this week, with a mission to come up with something to do with them, that could also use up the greens. This is what I came up with.
I was very pleased with the results...the bitter greens, the sweet beets, some salty was delicious. I especially loved the colors in this salad. It's like Fall on a plate.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Some Things I Just Love...

I'm back at you with some things I love finds....It's been a long while, I know. After the blog re-design, I had to work out some kinks in order to get things to look the way I wanted. Hopefully, I can keep this up as a weekly, or somewhat weekly piece {we all know my "weekly" stuff doesn't pan out that way}.

a. It seems websites dedicated to making cutesy kids lunches are everywhere. Yet, most of the time, these said lunches are either so involved that the average person could never pull them off, or they contain weird foods my kids wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole.
But, when I saw this image, from the website, Another Lunch, I thought...hey, I could pull that one off! Plus, all the foods she uses are kid friendly. Don't know that I'll ever feel adventurous enough, at 7am, to actually do it. But, now I've got my inspiration if I decide to.

b. When I saw these retro refrigerator bowls, I could hardly contain myself. Of course, I ordered some! I am a huge fan of retro glass products. I especially love retro juice glasses...which, I happen to have loads of, because the 92 yr. old woman we bought our home from left a trunk full of them in our basement. The sweet patterns on these remind me of the glasses we have.

c. I am loving this new iPhone app, called Paper Town Friends. It's a paper "dress-up" game & is the brainchild of Robin Rosenthal, a Brooklyn mom & former art director @ Martha Stewart Kids magazine {I used to love that magazine}. All of the images are handmade entirely from paper! So simple a concept, yet executed brilliantly.
Though my Bozos will probably never admit to their friends that they play it...they love it!

d. I could spend hours a day & go broke browsing through the pages of Etsy. I love these confetti paper garlands. They're available in 20 different colors & would be perfect for a birthday party. Better yet, they are durable enough to be used over & over...some are even made from recycled materials.

e. When we de-designed our kitchen, I thought I would never have to worry about storage space again. Yet, I struggle to find a place to store vegetables that shouldn't be refrigerated...potatoes, onions, squash, etc.
This time of year, when the veggies from the garden are all ready to harvest at once, it would also be nice to have a place to keep everything. I love this storage chest made just for the purpose. I could think of a dozen other uses for it too!

f. I saw these amazing illustrations drawn on plastic zip top bags & thought...this is something I could do with the giant rainbow pack of Sharpie's I couldn't resist buying! Obviously, not very practical for the one use bag. But, what about the bags you use over & store tiny kids toys, toiletries for travel, office supplies, etc.
I think it would be cool to let the kids decorate their own & keep their special stuff in them.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bozo Picture of the Week...

The magical musical sounds of an 8 year old playing the violin....oh joy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Buttermilk Biscuits

Mmmm. I love biscuits. I have tried dozens of recipes over the years & so far I'm really loving this one. With Autumn upon us, and soup, stew & chili season beginning, I thought now would be a good time to whip up a batch. We've been sick here the past week, so I made a big pot of chicken soup yesterday. These were perfect on the side.
I've read before that when you are baking biscuits, it's best to have them positioned on the baking sheet so that they're touching. Then when they're baked, they form into a big sheet of biscuits, that can be torn apart before eating. This helps them stay moist. So, I tried this technique & it worked well.
Another way to keep them flaky & soft all the way through, is to not over mix the dough. Over mixing will make them tough & give them a texture similar to a hockey, don't do that.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Skillet Eggs & Potatoes

When I was a child, my grandmother's fried potatoes were one of my most favorite things in the world. She cooked them in a cast iron skillet, with nothing else but some oil, until they were perfectly crisped. Then, she would fry an egg on top. Whenever I wasn't feeling well, this is what she would make me...the ultimate comfort food.
I recently made some for my Bozos. They are not potato fans...but, they do like french fries & these are so crispy, they don't taste like typical home fries, which sometimes have a mushy texture. They taste like french fries.
They loved them!! So, this has become one of our "Breakfast for Dinner" options. It's great too, because it's made with things that I usually always have in the house. So, when I am scrambling to come up with what to make for dinner...I now have this.
I purposely didn't add any fluff to this recipe. Mostly, because my grandmother didn't...but, also because I wanted it to be kid-friendly. However, if you'd like to add something, I'm sure it would be just as delicious. Adding some onions, garlic, or some hot peppers would be really yummy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Feta & Oregano Flowers

So far, September seems to be tomato month. This is my third tomato based recipe this month. It wasn't planned that way...but, with people's gardens overflowing with them, it's been hard to avoid. Maybe it's my attempt at hanging onto the last glimpse of summer?
As I mentioned a few posts ago, we haven't had much luck with our heirloom tomatoes this year, as I planted them in a location that's not getting enough sun to ripen them. Well, since then, we got two ripe ones! In addition to that I got a big bowl of garden goodies from my mother...about a dozen big tomatoes, a few peppers & some of her delicious homegrown garlic. Then yesterday, a neighbor stopped by with a few of her tomatoes & a red bell pepper. So, I had a huge abundance & this is what I decided to make with some of them.
Growing up, my mother & my grandmother used to make summer salads with big chunks of tomatoes & cucumbers, or peppers, sprinkled with lots of garden oregano. It's still, to this day, one of my most favorite salads.
Normally, I am not a huge green bell pepper fan. That is, unless they're homegrown. Something about the thin-skinned garden variety tastes so much better to me than store bought. It's not just me either...the Bozo's have been eating them for the past week, sliced in their lunch boxes.
This recipe is my interpretation of my family's classic. It's flexible & if you don't have green peppers from a garden, I recommend using red, yellow, or orange ones instead...or, you can substitute cucumbers also. Right now, my oregano plant has gone to flower. I love oregano flowers. Not just in an arrangement, because they are so sweet looking...but, because they have tons of flavor & look just as pretty on a plate as they do in a vase.

Begin with 2 pounds of ripe assorted heirloom tomatoes & 1 large bell pepper {I used 2 small ones instead}. Cut the tomatoes into medium sized uneven chunks. I sliced some of them & cut some into chunks. Seed the pepper & cut into bite sized pieces.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fresh Corn & Tomato Sauté

This recipe is an attempt to re-create a dish my brother made while we were on vacation last summer. It was a
combo of fresh tomatoes & corn that he cooked up with fresh herbs...and, I have no idea what else.
But, it was so good!! He served it as a side, along with some mashed potatoes...and, something about the corn & tomato with those potatoes was just delicious.
While we were away again this year, I decided to try to make it again. I had no recipe. So, I went looking around & found this. I switched things up quite a bit, but the end result came out pretty close to what I was going for.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tomato Sauce with Onion & Butter

In the world of food blogging, this recipe is all over the interwebs...and, of course, there's a reason why.
It's amazing!
I've been wanting to blog this recipe for some time now & decided I would wait until the end of summer to make it, using my ripe garden tomatoes. Unfortunately, our new veggie garden is in such a spot, that it is not getting sufficient enough sun to ripen our tomatoes {except for hundreds of cherry tomatoes, thankfully}.
It's a huge bummer. But, a lesson learned.
This recipe is from the goddess of Italian home cooking, Marcella Hazan. It's quite possibly the most delicious tomato sauce you'll ever taste...Bozo #2, who will normally not touch pasta with tomato sauce on it, was eating it straight with a spoon.
Plus, with one pot & three ingredients there's no reason not to give it a try.