Monday, August 24, 2009

(Yellow) Bruschetta

We now have handfuls of tomatoes turning ripe every day, and seeing as I am the only one in this house who can appreciate the savory fruit, I've been making lots of bruschetta. I LOVE it. This year's gardening (my first attempt) was very half-hearted, disorganized and in a lot of cases last-minute, but I don't like reading how-tos on gardening. I've learned a lot just by seeing a doing (or not doing), and next year's garden will be bigger and more well-thought out.
Back to this year's: I was surprised to find that ALL of my tomatoes are yellow. I remember planting some yellow ones (for any real gardeners out there, I have not a clue what the name of them is-- they looked good), but I also remember planting some cherries and some other red varieties. Some of the tomato plants withered, due to a number of reasons, before I could transplant them outside, and I had moved them around so many times with such a disorganized (non-existant?) method of labeling, that I really had no clue what would show up. Surprise! They all appear to be the same variety of yellow, and they're all extrememly delicious. So, yes. My bruschetta is yellow.

I never measure, but here's an approximation:

4 ripe medium sized yellow tomatoes, diced
1+ tablespoons minced garlic
1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf Italian bread or french baguette

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, basil, oil and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste, set aside.

Slice the bread in 1/4" thick slices, and place on a baking sheet. Toast the bread on each side until golden brown. Top with the tomato mixture. Or serve family style with the tomatoes in one bowl and the bread in another and everyone can just help themselves (I'll be the only one helping myself in this family).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Spaghetti Pie

While I was stalking Suzy Homemaker, I also found a recipe for Spaghetti Pie that looked promising, with this group of "fagetti" lovers. I gave it a whirl tonight, and the reviews were good. This was an easy dish to sneak in some extra veggies too.

1 pkg. (12 oz.) vermicelli
3 tbsp. butter
1/3 c. Parmesan
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. low-fat sour cream
1 c. mozzarella cheese (split in half)
1 1/2 lb. ground meat
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1/4 c. bell pepper, chopped
1 can (12 oz.) stewed tomato
1 (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic salt

**Cook vermicelli according to directions. Stir butter and Parmesan into hot vermicelli. Add eggs and stir well. Spoon into casserole dish which has been sprayed.

**Brown beef with onion and bell pepper. Drain. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste and seasonings.

**Spread sour cream evenly over pie shell. Sprinkle with half of the Mozzarella cheese.

**Spread on Beef mixture. Top with any veggies you may want such as mushrooms, olives.

**Sprinkle with remaining Mozzarella Cheese.

**Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.

Serves 8 or more.

Classic banana cake

I sniped this recipe directly from My Suzy Homemaker. I skipped the caramel topping with nuts- it's sweet enough (though adding nuts to the cake itself would have been a good idea, had I thought of it at the time). Super moist and yummy!

Classic Banana Cake
Adapted from a recipe by Ellen Einstein in "Baking From My Home to Yours"
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 stick (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cup sugar (I used half brown sugar)
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large egg, at room temperature
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

**Preheat oven to 350 degrees

**Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.

**Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy.

**Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then the egg, beating for about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the bananas.

** Finally, mix in half the dry ingredients (don't be disturbed if the batter curdles), all the sour cream and then the rest of the flour mixture.

** Using a spatula scrap into a generously buttered 9- to 10-inch (12-cup) Bundt pan, and bake the cake for 65 to 75 minutes, checking it at the 30-minute mark and covering it loosely with a foil tent if it's browning too quickly. Let the cake cool on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Love in a 9 x 13 inch pan

At least I have a valid excuse for not posting to this blog in a while...I'm now officially responsible for feeding a family of five! Carrigan Grace joined us in the world outside of the womb on July 21, and I've been basically nursing and changing diapers ever since then. Thankfully, we have been overwhelmingly blessed by generous family and friends providing us meals during this time. We have sampled sweet-potato burritos, spicy black bean burgers, grilled chicken, Mexican lasagna, and ham-cheese quiche, just to name a few. One notable difference than other arrivals--since we are not in Pittsburgh anymore, no one has brought us ham barbecue. That's deli-style shaved ham cooked in barbeque sauce and served on buns for anyone who has not yet been exposed.

We have all been struck by how helpful these meals have been and are so very appreciative. We're vowing to remember that in the future and grace others with a casserole, quick bread, and/or pie to celebrate or grieve with them. Food usually seems to do those things just perfectly.

And when I have another few minutes with two free hands I'll post about my experiences with my new meal exchange group.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Makin pie? YES, Blueberry pie!

Two of my very generous neighbors were up with Mike and I half the night helping to fix various issues on both of our cars. That's not completely true, but they may as well have. Mike and I went out to jumper the van, since I left the lights on (those tunnels get me EVERY time (not really)), and once that took the better part of an hour (while the neighbors insisted on keeping us company, holding flash lights and jumper cables and such) and it finally caught, Mike drove her around for a half-hour or so. And during that time, those same lovely neighbors helped me changed the tire that blew- with a loud and mighty sound- as I was pulling the Hyundai out of the spot where we jumpered the van right after Mike had left.

After all of that, I told the two men they should open their own car shop and decided I wanted to make them each apple pies. Not my very first pie though. That came tonight-- a test run, if you will. Well, I'm kind of wishing I had given one of them that pie because it turned out maybe as good as my mom's best pies (minus the eyesore crust). And my mom's pies are the best, if I'm any kind of judge. Tomorrow, I'll make another-- just hope it turns out as well as this one. That pie was so good. I ate the whole thing.
The rest of it is in the microwave.

bean and spinach enchiladas

For the past couple of nights, we've had the most delicious green beans from our garden-- cooked in olive oil and a little salt-- I could eat lots of those things.

That aside, I'm finally back and cooking after almost three weeks of vacation.
The enchiladas I made tonight were so simple (as I think most enchiladas are) and they were a big hit by everyone.

I just added things I thought would be tasty--

In large pan, saute (1 med.) onion and (1/2) yellow pepper til tender. Add (1/2 cup?) frozen spinach, (1 can) northern beans, (~1 cup) salsa. Mix it all up and heat through. Add some grated mozzarella cheese and some light sour cream. Dip flour tortillas in mixture, then fill with about a 1/2 cup or so and roll up, seams down. Cover with remaining sauce mixture and cheese.