August 31, 2009

What's For Dinner?


Tonight Alexis and I are having some sort of tomato soup. I'm not sure what I'm going to put in it, but I know I'm going to use some of the tomato sauce I had left over from canning and some of the tomatoes. I ran out of jars when I was making sauce and had about a quart and a half left to go. When I was canning the diced tomatoes I dropped a jar. The jar didn't break, but the lid popped off so it wouldn't can properly. I put it in the freezer instead. I'm going to use that jar too. Maybe I'll add some corn and/or green beans and/or potatoes and/or basil and/or black beans.

Jamison has class tonight and will run over and pick up our CSA on the way. I'm not sure what he is having yet.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 1:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish

I love wild salmon. Growing up I wasn't so fond of salmon, because I had only been exposed to the canned variety and I was not impressed. Several years ago I decided to try a fresh fillet and I immediately fell in love!

Salmon is a very healthy option overall as long as you focus on wild salmon and not the farmed variety. It's also quick cooking and delicious! Both pluses in my opinion!

So what you should look for?

First follow your nose. If it smells fishy, then you don't want it! Next give it a poke. Is the flesh firm? You want it to be firm, with just a bit of give. And don't forget to read the label! Remember you're looking for a variety that was not farm raised!

This dish can be done year around, but it's especially nice in the summer when the vegetables are fresh. It takes about 4 minutes to throw together and 10-15 minutes to cook and assemble. How's that for quick? There is just nothing better than a quick, healthy, delicious meal!


What You'll Need for the Salmon:
A nice sized salmon fillet (Note: The one I used would feed roughly four people.)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Lime juice

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large skillet over medium heat a thin layer of olive oil. Sprinkle a salmon fillet with sea salt and black pepper. Right before you put it in the skillet drizzle the top with freshly squeezed lime juice and place it skin up in the pan until brown nicely browned:

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish: Browning

This take about 1-2 minutes:

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish: Ready For Oven

Flip the fillet over, with the skin down and place in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until almost done through.

Remove from oven and place on a cutting board:

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish: Salmon Resting

Let sit for 5 minutes. It will continue cooking as it sits.

When ready to serve, cut into individual servings and top with relish. (See below.)

Now move on to your relish.

Better Bites: Pan Seared Salmon With Tomato Avocado Relish: Relish

What You'll Need for the Tomato Avocado Relish:
2 cups of cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters (Note: Any kind of tomatoes will work, but I like to use the smaller variety for this.)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/3 cup of fresh dill, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of freshly squeeze lime juice

In a large bowl toss together all ingredients to mix well. Place a nice sized scoop on top of the cooked salmon fillets.

Notes: This relish is good on most any fish or even grilled chicken. Don't add the avocado until the last minute. The salmon is also good by itself cooked this way.

Posted by Dianne at 11:09 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 27, 2009

What's For Dinner?


Woo! What a day!

Alexis had her first 1st grade review this morning. On the way to the review we ran by the bank and then on to the gas station. After that we went to the actual review. From there we went to the orchard (I got 28 more pounds of "seconds" tomatoes...Tomato sauce and salsa here I come!) and returned our library books. Next we stopped for lunch and hit the grocery store while we were right next to the store so I wouldn't have to venture back out.

On the way home we ran over a huge snake. I saw it, Jamison didn't. Even outside the car it gave me the heebie jeebies! (Snakes are one of my phobias, closely followed by spiders, thunderstorms, enclosed spaces, crowds and heights..I just have them all covered don't I? ;oP) It made a decidedly crunching noise, sort of like when you run over one of those meter things they put down to count traffic sometimes, as we ran over it twice (front and back tires!) and Jamison said it curled up in a ball when we hit it. Ick! All of this and we still got home in time for Lex's 1 o'clock nap and I only managed 3 1/2 hours of sleep last night. A bit bleary eyed, that's me!

So today I'm just posting What's For Dinner? and not a recipe too. That's twice this week I know, but it's been a busy one!

Tonight we're having left overs and I'm having light fare. Jamison will have left over roast beef and rice, Alexis will have left over pizza and I'm having a tomato salad of some sort.

What are you having?

Now if you'll excuse me the tomatoes are calling me again! ;oP

Posted by Dianne at 1:48 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 26, 2009

What's For Dinner? Plus Week 15 Of Our CSA!

First up a peak at our CSA haul this week!

CSA Week 15

We got more basil (I'm drowning in basil!), cherry tomatoes (which Alexis devoured almost immediately), raspberries (of which I am not a fan, but Alexis has been eating), a large zucchini, a yellow squash, some heirloom tomatoes, jalapeñoes and some potatoes.

We also purchased the 40 tomatoes I mentioned earlier apart from our weekly share so I could can some:

CSA Week 15: 40 Pounds Of Tomatoes

The tomatoes were just beautiful! So ripe, so just perfect!

Now let's get down to What's For Dinner?!


Tonight Jamison starts his other class for the semester. Alexis and I will have veggie rice and some sliced tomatoes.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 1:03 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Chicken Gumbo

Chicken Gumbo

So first up let's talk some tomatoes!

I spent most of the day canning yesterday. I ended up with 17 quarts of tomatoes from the 40 pounds! My pressure gauge from my pressure canner was broken so I ended up doing the hot water bath method instead. Whatever...It worked, so that is all I can ask for! I'll replace my gauge and try the pressure method next time and in all honesty I wasn't too heartbroken that the gauge wouldn't work since the thought of pressure canning/cooking sort of freaks me out to begin with.

The majority of the jars were canned as diced tomatoes, but I did do two jars of whole tomatoes and 3 of the crushed variety. Now Alexis and I can make lots of tomato based soups this winter! Fun!

Now let's talk some gumbo! (Why do I keep typing that "gumob" instead of "gumbo"??)

I've always wanted to try my hand at gumbo, but just never had. I have made Étouffée in the past, but never gumbo. It's really a simple dish, and in fact I've always sort of thought of it as "gravy soup" given the roux base (Somewhere some Cajun/Creole cook just rolled over in their grave at my sacrilege!), but it provides a definite wow factor with only a few simple ingredients. Simple and delicious...I'll take it!

What You'll Need:
1/2 a large red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
6-8 ribs of celery, chopped
1 cup of olive oil
3/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 1/2 quarts of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of a good salt free Cajun or Creole seasoning
1-2 cups of okra, sliced
2 cups of shredded chicken

First chop onion, bell pepper and celery:

Chicken Gumbo: The Holy Trinity

This is known as the "Holy Trinity" of Cajun and Creole cooking. Set aside.

Now let's talk roux!

Ultimately you want to end up with a lovely, brown, nutty smelling roux that looks like this:

Chicken Gumbo: Roux

This was my first pass at roux in a while and I have to say I was amazed by how easy it was! There is sort of a stigma surrounding roux that it is hard to make, but I don't think that is the case! In my head I remembered it as difficult though, I'm not sure why.

Roux is basically fat and flour. I chose to use olive oil, but I've seen and read that it can be made with butter or a clear oil. I also added with the flour and oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper:

Chicken Gumbo: Ready to Make Roux

Stir the ingredients to mix until smooth.

When you read recipes for roux it says to stir constantly and I have to be honest...I don't stand around and stir ANYTHING constantly! I checked it every minute and half to two minutes or so and gave it a good stir. So it was more like stir, put away a few dishes out of the dishwasher, stir, put away a few more, stir, put away the last of the dishes, stir, wipe down the counter, stir, sweep the kitchen a bit, stir, sweep a bit more, etc.

That being said you have to be careful! You want to make your roux over a low to medium heat. Keep in mind you can go from nutty brown to scorched quickly! When it starts getting slightly brown pay closer attention to your roux. It will turn a lovely brown color and actually smell nutty. Basically you're making a brown gravy and this takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes.

Once you have browned your roux toss in your "holy trinity" and stir to mix:

Chicken Gumbo: The Holly Trinity Ready To Cook

Cook the vegetables for 5-10 minutes until tender, stirring often.

Next add chicken broth, Cajun or Creole seasoning, okra and chicken and stir to mix:

Chicken Gumbo: Ready to Simmer

(Note: If you can not find Cajun or Creole seasoning that is salt free then omit the salt from the roux.) Bring the gumbo to a quick boil and then redue heat to simmer. Cook for 1-2 hours partially covered. (Note: I like to do this by leaving the spoon in the pot and placing the lid on. It allows the pot to be partially covered and you're ready to stir at a moments notice!) Stir occasionally.

To serve, place some rice in the bottom of a bowl:

Chicken Gumbo: Rice

Next top with a spoonful of gumbo:

Chicken Gumbo

You can also serve this with hot sauce and/or chopped parsley.

Notes: You can make gumbo with just about anything. Shrimp is good, or crayfish, or crab, etc. It also freezes well.

Posted by Dianne at 10:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 25, 2009

Tomatoes Oh My! And What's For Dinner?


I'm up to my ears in canning today so I will not be posting a recipe. We obtained 40 pounds of tomatoes from our CSA and I'm busy getting them canned for the winter! Alexis and I love tomato based soups, so this will be a great way to extend the season.

I have the tomatoes peeled and am waiting for the pressure cooker to warm up. This is my first time pressure canning, or using my pressure cooker in general and I have to admit I'm a bit terrified of the thing (OK...It scares the bejesus out of me!), but we'll see how things go!

Like I said no recipe today, but I will however tell you What's For Dinner?!


Tonight I'm making chicken gumbo for myself. This is not something that Jamison would touch. Alexis may try it, you never know with her. For them I'm making center cut pork chops and brown rice, which I'll use some of with my gumbo. Alexis will also have a vegetable, most likely tomatoes or cucumbers.

What are you having?

Now if you'll excuse me, my tomatoes are calling me back to the kitchen. What? Your tomatoes don't talk? ;oP

Posted by Dianne at 10:54 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 24, 2009

What's For Dinner?


Tonight is the first night of Jamison's new semester. So he will be heading to class early since it's the first night. Alexis and I are going to have roasted Old Bay chicken (in the slow cooker now), steamed asparagus a la the microwave and a tomato salad.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 2:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Better Bites: Dianne's Take On Ratatouille

Better Bites: Dianne's Take On Ratatouille

For a while now I've been meaning to make a Ratatouille type dish, but just never got around to doing just that. This time of year is just perfect for this because you have so many fresh, local, healthy ingredients right at your finger tips! By pairing a few vegetables and some herbs you've got a fabulous meal that tastes amazing. I love simple, yet delicious!


What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
Red potatoes
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Yellow squash
1 small eggplant
Red onion
Garlic scapes

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Brush a pie plate with olive oil and place a layer of potatoes of the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper:

Better Bites: Dianne's Take On Ratatouille: Potatoes

You want to add just a little salt. You're going to be seasoning each layer, so you want just enough salt for the layer in question. Don't let yourself get to heavy with the salt, or you'll end up with a dish that is too salty to eat. You want somewhere between 1/8 to 1/4 a teaspoon per layer spread evenly.

Next add a layer of sliced tomatoes on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, thyme and rosemary:

Better Bites: Dianne's Take On Ratatouille: Tomatoes and Herbs

Be generous with everything but the salt. This picture was taken mid sprinkling. Make sure to get lots of herbs on this layer!

For the top layer you want to place zucchini, squash and eggplant to cover the top. Top this with red onion and garlic scapes. (Note: If you don't have garlic scapes you can use 4-6 cloves of crushed garlic instead.) Next drizzle the top with a bit more olive oil and then sprinkle with sea salt, more freshly ground black pepper, thyme and rosemary:

Better Bites: Dianne's Take On Ratatouille: Ready to Bake

Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover at the 30 minute mark and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until slightly browned and vegetables are tender:

Better Bites: Dianne's Take On Ratatouille: Baked

Serve immediately.

Now let's have some fun with leftovers!

When the leftovers sit in the fridge overnight the mixture breaks down a bit, especially the tomatoes and it forms something that resembles more like a chunky Ratatouille Soup:

Better Bites: Dianne's Take On Ratatouille: Ratatouille Becomes Soup (The Next Day!)

You can reheat and eat this as is, or you can throw in some chicken to make it an more hearty soup:

Better Bites: Dianne's Take On Ratatouille: Ratatouille Becomes Soup (The Next Day!)

I love taking left overs and making them slightly different!

Notes: You could add shrimp or beef to the "soup" the next day too. Or as I said before you could just enjoy it as is for a vegan treat. Also oregano could be added in place of, or in addition to the herbs used.

Posted by Dianne at 11:36 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 21, 2009

Friday Link Love (Short Version)


I just can NOT seem to catch up on my blog reading, but there are a few links I want to share with you this week, so let's get started!

First up I want you to go check out two links from The Brown Eyed Baker! Take a look at her Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares, because you know that I think cheesecake should be a food group of its own and also take a peak at her entry on how to make pastry cream. I've been thinking about pastry cream for days!

Next be sure and pop over to Two Peas and Their Pod and take a look at the S'Mores cookies. How fabulous do those look?

Kitchen Parade shared some really great looking fried bread. I don't think I would have thought of this myself, but I can't wait to try it all the same!

And last but not least be sure and stop over at Dragon's Kitchen and take a look at the Lemon Blueberry Cake. Yum!

What has caught your eye lately?

Posted by Dianne at 12:20 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 20, 2009

What's For Dinner? (I Don't Have a Clue, Do You?!!?)


So...I'm feeling blah today? Anyone else? Alexis is having a day too, so it's been just one of those days all around! I have no clue what I want for dinner.

Maybe we'll do breakfast for dinner in the form of eggs and/or an omelet for me? Or perhaps will have some chicken quesadillas with beans. Only if we do the first, I'll have to make something else for Lex because she doesn't like eggs, and if we do the latter I'll have to make something else for Jamison because that's too "exotic" for him. No matter what I ultimately fix, I plan on it being simple and mostly done before I start!

It's THAT kind of day!

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 1:03 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Potato And Corn Chowder

Potato and Corn Chowder

Often time you will find in my fridge left over corn on the cob (one of Lex's favorites!) and left over roasted potatoes (one of Jamison's staples) and while left overs are good, why not take them an make something else? So that's just what I did!

This chowder is completely dairy free, making it a bit lighter, but you'll never miss that addition. You'll use corn to help thicken the chowder instead of flour as well. This is a fresh, hearty, yet healthy meal that is easy to make. What's not to like about that?

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
3 garlic scapes, chopped (Note: I found some garlic scapes that had been pushed to the back of my vegetable drawer from earlier this year and they were still good! If you don't have scapes you can use 2-3 cloves of minced garlic instead.)
2 cups of roasted potato chunks (Note: If you don't have any left over roast some yourself at 425 F with a little olive oil, sea salt and pepper until golden brown and tender.)
4-6 ears of corn, kernels removed from the cob and divided
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 quart of broth (Note: I used chicken, but whatever you have on hand is fine.)
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried dill

In a large pot sauté red onion and garlic scapes in a little extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until tender:

Potato and Corn Chowder: Onions and Garlic Scapes

Next add potatoes and stir to mix:

Potato and Corn Chowder: Onions, Garlic Scapes and Potatoes

Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to "warm" the potatoes.

While the potatoes are "warming" move on to your corn.

Remove the kernels from the cobs. Take half of the kernels (if you're using 4 ears then two of the ears, if you're using 6 then 3) and place them in them in your food processor:

Potato and Corn Chowder: Corn

Next process until mostly smooth:

Potato and Corn Chowder: Creamed

Add the creamed corn to your pot:

Potato and Corn Chowder: Creamed Corn

Stir to mix.

Next add remaining ingredients and stir well:

Potato and Corn Chowder: Almost Ready

Bring to a quick boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for at least 30 minutes. The soup will thicken a bit as it cooks.

Serve immediately.

Potato and Corn Chowder: Up Close

Notes: You could add in other ingredients if you liked. I had intended to add shredded carrots, but forgot when I was making the soup. You could also switch up the seasonings. Why not Old Bay instead of thyme and dill? Or you could go with only thyme, or only dill. It's up to you.

Posted by Dianne at 11:29 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 19, 2009

What's For Dinner? Plus Week 14 Of Our CSA!

First up let's take a peak into this week's CSA bag!

CSA Week 14

This week we got some red potatoes, squash, slicing tomatoes, a cucumber, some peppers, some jalapeñoes, some heirloom tomatoes, more basil and some green beans!

No I haven't dried any of the previous basil. I now have two "vases" of basil sitting on my counter. I've got to get around to that...Still no freezer space for pesto! I'm planing on using some of the potatoes, squash and tomatoes tonight in my meal.

Now let's talk about What's For Dinner?!


Since they didn't have lasagna last night and I had the stuff all ready to go I'm going to make a slow cooker lasagna for Jamison and Miss G. I plan to make a Ratatouille type dish for myself.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 1:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Old Bay Macaroni Salad

Old Bay Macaroni Salad

A couple of weeks ago I was testing out pasta salad ideas trying to decided what I wanted to take to church for them to bring to the shelter. This was one of the dishes that I came up with and I loved it! You know me and Old Bay...It's one of my favorite things!

I really loved how this turned out, but not everyone is a fan of Old Bay and some people think it's a little hot, so ultimately I went with something a bit more "tame", but I wanted to shared this with you anyway! The vegetables are just the right cool bite, while the Old Bay gives it some zing! This is just perfect as a side dish or even as a main course on a hot summer day!

What You'll Need:
1 - 14.5 ounce package of macaroni noodles, cooked according to package directions, drained and cooled (Note: I used a whole grain variety, but you any kind will do.)
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 a large red onion, chopped
1 cucumber, cut into spears and then chopped
1 carrot, shredded
3 ribs of celery, chopped
1-2 ounces of sundried tomatoes, chopped (Note: I like to use the ones that are not packed in oil for this, but either would work.)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of light sour cream
1/4 cup of light mayo
1 tablespoon of Old Bay Seasoning

Cook your pasta, drain and cool. If you want to cool it quickly rinse it with cool water.

Old Bay Macaroni Salad: Macaroni

Place cooled pasta in a large glass bowl. Add bell pepper, red onion, cucumber, carrot and sundried tomatoes and toss or stir to mix. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a small bowl mix together sour cream, mayo and Old Bay seasoning until well mixed:

Old Bay Macaroni Salad: Dressing

Add Old Bay mixture to the pasta/vegetable mixture and stir to mix:

Old Bay Macaroni Salad

Serve immediately or chill in the fridge for several hours before serving.

Notes: Squash or zucchini would be a nice addition, or perhaps some sautéed mushrooms or peas. Some shredded Parmesan would be fabulous too!

Posted by Dianne at 10:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 18, 2009

What's For Dinner?


Tonight is lasagna night! Jamison will have his standard meat/cheese/sauce/gluten free noodle combo. I'm going to make a vegetable variety for myself. Lex will eat one or the other, you never know with her! Plenty of left overs for Jamison and I'll freeze what is left of mine. I think I am going to attempt to make some lasagna noodles as well. I've made pasta before, but never those noodles specifically. We'll also have a salad (or Lex and I will anyway) with local vegetables.

What are you having?

Update: 9:05 AM: 08/19/2009: So the lasagna thing didn't happen last night! When it came time to cook dinner I just wasn't in the mood. (Shocking isn't it? ;oP) We had to run an errand so we picked up something at a local pizza/sandwich place while we were out.

Posted by Dianne at 1:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Fresh Pizza Margherita(ish)

Fresh Pizza Margherita(ish)

Tomatoes! Tomatoes! Tomatoes! I just love fresh tomatoes! There is just nothing that can compare. Sure they're fabulous for eating all by themselves, but their flavor is really good cooked as well!

Tomato slices are really fabulous paired with mozzarella, herbs and Parmesan and baked as a pizza! With a few simple ingredients, you've got a really fabulous pizza that is just perfect paired with a salad as a summer meal!

Fresh Pizza Margherita(ish): Tomatoes!

What You'll Need for the Pizza Crust:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour (Note: You could use white whole wheat flour instead.)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of yeast
1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar or honey
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
3/4-1 cup of warm water

In a large glass bowl stir together flour, sea salt, yeast and organic cane sugar. (Note: If you are using honey add the honey to the water.) Stir to mix.

Add olive oil to the flour mixture and then slowly add water, stirring until dough forms. Depending on humidity and things of that nature you may need some of the water, all of it, or even perhaps a bit more. When the dough ball forms you know to stop. You want a slightly sticky dough, but not too sticky.

Set the dough aside for at least 10 minutes to an hour.

This is enough dough to make one 12-14 inch pizza or several individual sized pizzas.

What You'll Need to Make the Pizza:
Dough (see above)
Tomatoes, sliced
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Basil, cut into strips
Dried oregano
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Garlic powder or salt

Preheat oven to 425 F.

First up you'll need to decide what size pizza you are making. I went with individual sized. If you are making a big pie then spread the dough out onto a pan that has been oiled or sprayed with non-stick spray. If you're making the smaller variety I usually bake them in "rough" form on a baking sheet lined with my Silpat.

After the dough is spread you want to top it with tomatoes and mozzarella slices. You can do this one of several ways...You can fan them out like this:

Fresh Pizza Margherita(ish): Ready for Basil

Or you can make a layer of tomatoes and then top it with a layer of mozzarella or you can place the layer of mozzarella first and then top it with tomatoes. It's completely up to you.

Next you want to top your mozzarella with basil, a sprinkle of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper, a generous sprinkle of dried oregano, a drizzle of olive oil and a nice shake of garlic powder or salt:

Fresh Pizza Margherita(ish): Ready for Parmesan

Note: If you are going to use garlic powder then omit the sea salt.

Last add a generous sprinkle of Parmesan and then pop it into the oven:

Fresh Pizza Margherita(ish): Baking

Bake for 8-12 minutes until crust is golden, cheese melts and tomatoes are tender:

Fresh Pizza Margherita(ish): Baked

Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Notes: You could use fresh oregano if you liked, but I really think that dried oregano just has such a lovely concentrated flavor. You could also use fresh garlic, but the powdered garlic gives it more of a uniform taste. This is one of the few places where I prefer powder garlic versus fresh.

Posted by Dianne at 11:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 17, 2009

What's For Dinner?


I'm in the mood for something spicy! So I'm going to make some slow cooker fajitas (chicken), with kicked up red beans and guacamole.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 12:06 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Better Bites: Vegetable Burgers

Better Bites: Vegetable Burgers

I love veggie burgers! My favorite kind to buy from the store is just your standard Boca Burger, but you can easily make them at home with various ingredients for a healthy alternative when you want to cut out a little meat.

This version pairs summer vegetables, that some of you probably have coming out of your ears, with beans and rice to make a hearty, yet healthy alternative to the standard burger. Dress it up however you like it, pair it with some oven fries and/or a side salad and you've got the perfect meal!


What You'll Need:
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small yellow squash, chopped
1 portabella mushroom cap, chopped
1/2 a red onion, chopped
1/2 a sweet onion, chopped
Extra virgin oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ear of corn, stripped from the cob
1 carrot, shredded
1 cup of cooked black eyed peas
2 cups of cooked chick peas
2 cups of cooked brown rice
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 450 F. (Note: I like to do this part in my toaster oven. It doesn't heat up the house as much!)

Better Bites: Veggie Burgers: Veggies Ready To Roast

Chop zucchini, yellow squash, mushroom and onions and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground sea salt. Place veggies in a preheated oven and roast until veggies are tender. About 20-30 minutes. Set aside and let cool slightly.

In a food processor (or if you don't have one with a potato masher or food mill) process chick peas and black eyed peas until smooth. (Note: If you want you can use a little of the liquid from cooking the beans if it doesn't smooth out well. If you are using canned beans you can use a little liquid from the can.)

In a large glass bowl mix together corn kernels, shredded carrots, roasted vegetables, processed beans, rice and eggs until completely incorporated.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Next spray a 2/3 cup measuring cup with non-stick spray and place the filling into it packing it tightly. Turn the "burger" out of the cup into a baking dish that has also been sprayed with non-stick spray:

Better Bites: Vegetable Burgers Ready To Bake

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown:

Better Bites: Vegetable Burgers Baked

I like to serve these on toasted flat bread with a little mayo:

Better Bites: Vegetable Burgers

But you can top them however you like!

Makes 11-12 veggie burgers.

Notes: You can add in other vegetables if you like, or season the mixture to your liking. Cajun seasoning it good, or even Old Bay.

Posted by Dianne at 8:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 14, 2009

What's For Dinner?


I haven't read blogs in two weeks! So it's hard to do a Friday Link Love when you haven't had a chance to read any great recipes! So today I thought I'd give you a bonus What's For Dinner? instead!

Tonight is another mixed bag. Jamison is having a left over turkey cutlet with brown rice. Alexis and I are having tomato sandwiches, okra and squash/zucchini.

What are you having?

Oh and have a fabulous weekend everyone!

Posted by Dianne at 9:09 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 13, 2009

What's For Dinner? And What We Found At The Farmer's Market!

First let's talk some Farmer's Market goodies!

I've been meaning to make it back over to the Farmer's Market for a while now, but something always comes up. You know how life goes. But this afternoon Miss G and I headed over to hopefully find watermelon, cucumbers and tomatoes and we did and then some!

Farmer's Market Haul

As I said we found our tomatoes, cucumbers and our watermelon! We also found some blueberries, some okra, some peaches and some goats cheese!

I was ecstatic to see the okra, it's the first I've seen all year. Okra isn't really easy to find here in Maryland either, but it's getting easier. When we first moved here in 1999 I couldn't' find it anywhere and people look at me like I was crazy if I asked if they had any!

The peaches are so ripe you can smell them five feet away! I was also happy to see some late in the season blueberries and of course if you've been around Dianne's Dishes for a while you know about my adoration of goat cheese in general! Now that's what I call a productive trip!

Now let's get down to What's For Dinner?!?!


Tonight is a mixed bag and it's because of me this time. Jamison and Alexis want spaghetti and as you know I'm about spaghettied out! So they are having spaghetti and I'm going to make a fresh corn chowder. I think I may also go ahead and cook up the okra to freeze.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 4:13 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Summer Vegetable Soup

Summer Vegetable Soup

Some people think that warm soups are only a cold weather food, but I've never fallen into that line of thinking. I love soup, Alexis loves soup, and it seems a shame to just corral it into the cooler months of the year, though I do make more soup during those times. So even during summer you'll see soup pop up on our menu from time to time.

The other day I was in the mood for soup and surprisingly while I was thinking about soup Alexis actually asked me if we could have soup for dinner. Alexis' go to soup is chicken noodle, but I decided I wanted to take some of my fresh vegetables and whip up a soup with those. You could really eat this soup year round, utilizing frozen vegetables, but with the fresh variety it really gives the soup that much more!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 large zucchini, chopped
1-2 yellow squash, chopped
1-2 carrots, cut in half and sliced
2-3 ears of corn, kernels stripped from the cob
1-2 cups of green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
1 quart of canned tomatoes (Note: If you don't have canned tomatoes you can use 2 -14.5 ounce cans of tomatoes instead.)
2 quarts of chicken broth
A generous pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons of dried oregano
1-2 teaspoons of dried thyme

(Note: The proportions of this soup do NOT have to be perfect! If you have a little more of something and little less of something else that's completely OK. You can mix and match what you add.)

In a large stock pot sauté the onions, celery, zucchini, squash, carrots, corn and green beans until onions are tender. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, sea salt, black pepper, oregano and thyme and stir to mix. Taste the soup and if it needs more salt or pepper add it now.

Bring soup to a quick boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and cook for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Serve immediately.

This soup also freezes well.

Notes: This soup has endless possibilities. You can add in peas, or fresh chick peas, or leeks, or mushrooms, or potatoes, etc. Go with what you have on hand and what you like. You could also add in bit of chicken, steak or shrimp. If you liked rice or noodles either could be added as well.

Posted by Dianne at 9:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 12, 2009

What's For Dinner? Plus Week 13 Of Our CSA And A Peak At What We're Harvesting At Home!

First up let's take a peak at our CSA bag this week!

CSA Week 13

We got zucchini, squash, another melon, some more hard necked garlic, more basil, yellow snap beans, fingerling potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and edamame!

The basil went in with the basil from the previous weeks:

CSA: Three Weeks Worth Of Basil!

How's that for a big bunch of basil! I have used some of it, but still haven't gotten around to drying it yet. Still no room in the freezer for pesto either! That's about 18 inches of basil from one side to the other!

Now let's give you an idea of what's starting to come in in our little front porch container "garden" every few days or so:

From Our "Garden"

Alexis usually munches on what we pick faster than I can get a photograph! Tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, jalapeñoes and potatoes! We've also had some bell peppers, a few chick peas that we've been munching on right off the plant, some banana peppers and peas.

If you noticed in the background of the top CSA picture there are some apples that came off our trees. Out of all of our apples that the tree made, we were able to save 6 of them! The deer got the rest. Oh well! I'm going to do a garden update soon...I just need to find the time to sit down and write down what is happening!

Now let's talk about dinner!


Yesterday totally got away from me and I didn't get around to posting What's For Dinner? so I'm going to give you two for the price of one today!

Last night we had barbeque chicken from the slow cooker, roasted fingerling potatoes and fresh tomatoes with ranch dressing.

Tonight we're having turkey cutlets, yellow snap beans, brown rice, tomatoes and cucumbers.

What are you having?

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Cocktail Time! Frozen Blueberry Margaritas!

Cocktail Time! Frozen Blueberry Margarita

I love blueberries and Alexis does too. Sometimes though we don't eat them fast enough and I often end up with blueberries in the freezer to keep them from going bad. The frozen variety are perfect for blueberry sauce, muffins, blueberry cheesecake, blueberry ice cream or even to eat as a nice little frozen treat, but why not take them to another level?

A few weeks ago I decided to make some margaritas, but I didn't want to make just the general version. I thought about many things and finally I thought it might be nice to throw in some frozen blueberries and see how that would turn out. It turned out well! If you like blueberries and want a margarita with a twist then this is the drink for you!

What You'll Need:
2 cups of freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup of simple syrup
1 cup of triple sec
3/4 cup of tequila
2 cups of frozen blueberries (Note: These were local blueberries that I froze myself. In theory the ones you buy at the grocery store should work as well, though I haven't tried them.)
Organic cane sugar for rimming the glasses

Cocktail Time! Frozen Blueberry Margarita

Dump all of your ingredients into the jar of your blender and blend until mostly smooth.

I actually like little frozen blueberry bits in my drink, but if you want something a bit smoother then you can strain the mixture before putting it into the glass.

Cocktail Time! Frozen Blueberry Margarita

Wet the edge of your glasses and dip them into organic cane sugar. Pour the blueberry margaritas into the glasses and serve.

Notes: When I'm making a straight up margarita I prefer to rim the glasses with salt, but when it is a fruity version I prefer sugar.

Posted by Dianne at 10:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 11, 2009

Squash and Zucchini Fritters

Squash and Zucchini Fritters

Once in a while I think to myself "Self you haven't fried anything in a while!" and I make grand plans to start frying. Then I actually do start frying and I remember how much work it is! Yummy yes, but easy no! My fryer is one of the larger ones, but that still doesn't mean that the capacity is that great and things can go slowly. So on the rare occasions I do pull out the fryer it's fun for a few minutes anyway frying up tasty little treats.

When we first started getting zucchini and squash coming in I thought it might be interesting to combine the two and makes some fritters and let me tell you these did not disappoint! I froze most of these, so I have some for later, but the few I did enjoy really hit the spot! It's a relatively simple mix, but it definitely gives you bang for your buck!

What You'll Need:
1 cup of stone ground yellow corn meal
1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour (Note: You could also use white whole wheat flour.)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of organic cane sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of buttermilk
1 small sweet onion, chopped (Note: I used a Vidalia, but a yellow or white onion will be fine too.)
1 large zucchini, shredded
2 small yellow squash, shredded
Oil for frying

In a large bowl stir together corn meal, flour, sea salt, baking powder and sugar until well mixed. Add eggs and buttermilk and stir until incorporated. Add onion, zucchini and sqaush and stir to mix. Your mixture should look roughly like this:

Squash and Zucchini Fritters: Batter Before Resting

Set bowl aside for 25-35 minutes and let the batter "sweat" until it looks like this:

Squash and Zucchini Fritters: Batter After Resting

Preheat oil to 375 F.

Once oil is heated drop batter into the hot oil by the spoonful. (Note: I like to use a soup spoon.) Let brown on one side and the flip. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until golden brown all over.

Once browned remove the fritters from the oil and place on a baking sheet that has been lined with paper towels:

Squash and Zucchini Fritters

Repeat the process until all of the batter is used. You can keep the ones that are finished warm in a 200 F oven while the others are cooking.

These are really great as is, or dunked in a little ranch dressing!

Let's take a look at the inside:

Squash and Zucchini Fritters: The Inside

Little bits of zucchini, squash and onion throughout! Yum! The perfect fritter!


I got bored with the frying thing toward the end (See told you above didn't I? ;oP) and started to wonder what the batter would be like in muffin form. I preheated the oven to 375 F and about 17 minutes later I ended up with this:

Squash and Zucchini Fritters Become a Muffin

So if you'd prefer a method other than frying, how about making them into muffins? Worked perfectly!

Notes: You could use only squash or only zucchini if you preferred. Shredded carrot might be nice too, or how about some fresh corn kernels?

Posted by Dianne at 1:16 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 10, 2009

What's For Dinner?


We're having our first real heat spell of the summer, which I suppose is good since it's the middle of August! This my friends is why I'm not a fan of summer! Yesterday we topped out at 98 with god knows what humidity and today is much of the same. It's a stay inside or fry sort of day so tonight's goal is not to heat up the house! Luckily I have a bunch of yummy left overs so left overs it will be! It's a microwave night! Too hot to do much else!

Jamison is having left over steak and rice. Alexis and I are having left over shrimp, corn on the cob, tomatoes, zuchini and squash and possibly something as yet to be decided out of this week's CSA bag, which Jamison will pick up on his way home.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 12:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips

First up be sure and stop by over at the Greenists today. It's my day to post and this time I'm sharing some great ideas for what to do with your bounty of summer vegetables! Pop over and take a look and then let me know what your favorite things are to do with your summer veggies, because I love to see what others do and you may give me a new idea or two!


Now let's get started with Better Bites!

Fish and chips...What's not to like? This combo is one of my all time favorite comfort foods! I don't make it often though because although I don't have an issue with frying from time to time, it's a lot of work! It would be nice to have fish and chips more often so I started thinking about ways to take them and make them a little lighter, all while having a fabulous meal and not losing any of the taste! That's just what this oven version does!

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Chips

What You'll Need For the Chips:
2 pounds of potatoes, cut into wedges roughly the same size (Note: I used Yukon Gold, but you can use whatever you like.)
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Finely ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Wash potatoes and cut them into wedges. Make sure the wedges are roughly the same size so they'll cook evenly. Place them in a glass bowl.

Pour olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and some finely ground pepper over the potatoes and toss to coat:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Coated

Add potatoes to a 13 X 9 inch dish and spread out evenly:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Chips Ready to Bake

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until "chips" are golden brown and fork tender:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Chips

Let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Notes: These are fabulous sprinkled with a little malt vinegar just before eating.

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Baked Fish

What You'll Need For The Fish:
1 lb of cod, cut into 4-5 pieces (Note: Any firm fish will work.)
Sea salt
Hot sauce
1 1/4 cups of stone ground yellow corn meal, divided
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of fine ground black pepper
2 heaping teaspoons of Cajun seasoning (Note: If the Cajun seasoning you are using has salt, then omit the teaspoon of sea salt.)
1/2 to 3/4 ups of buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 F. (Note: If you're making "chips" too then you can just add the fish toward the end of the baking time for the "chips".)

First rinse your fish and pat dry. Cut into 4-5 pieces:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Cod

The little one there is for Lex.

Place the pieces of fish on a plate and sprinkle generously with sea salt and hot sauce on both sides:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Hot Sauce

Set fish aside and prepare your batter. (Note: You can do this step the night before if you like and place the seasoned fillets in the fridge in an air tight container until ready to cook the next day.)

Mix one cup of corn meal with sea salt, black pepper and Cajun seasoning. Stir to mix. Add buttermilk slowly until a very thick batter forms. (Note: Depending on humidity you may need part of the buttermilk or all of it...Just keep an eye. Your batter should support the weight of your fish without sinking much.) Let sit for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the fish with the remaining 1/4 cup of corn meal on both sides of the fish:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Sprinkled with Corn Meal

Once the fish is sprinkled place one piece in the batter:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Ready to Coat

Next turn the fish over and make sure both sides are coated well with the batter:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Coated

Place coated fish in a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray:

Better Bites: Oven Baked Fish and Chips: Ready to Bake

Repeat this process until all of your fillets are coated.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until fish is golden brown and done through.

Notes: Surprisingly the hot sauce and the Cajun seasoning doesn't make the fish "hot". It just gives it a nice over all flavor. You could really do this with any seasoning....Old Bay, Soul Food Seasoning, etc. Jamison's dad makes his fish this way and then fries it. We like the method so well that we do all of our breaded fish that way!

Posted by Dianne at 9:03 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 6, 2009

What's For Dinner?


Tonight Alexis and I are having some tomato soup I froze a couple of weeks ago, along with some fresh sliced tomatoes. Jamison is having left over steak and rice. I am also thinking of making some corn bread.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 1:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 5, 2009

What's For Dinner? The I Don't Have A Clue Edition!


OK...Today I don't have a clue! I'm in a blah sort of mood and nothing I can think of sounds good to me right now. I don't know what we will end up having! Inspire me people! ;oP

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 12:27 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Check Out The Greenists!


Allie's Answers has now become The Greenists where I will be contributing on the subject of food. Check out the other Greensits and be sure to stop by and say hello!

Thanks to Allie and Courtney for asking me to join in! This should be fun!

Posted by Dianne at 9:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 4, 2009

What's For Dinner? Plus Week 12 Of Our CSA!

First up let's take a peak into our CSA bag from this week!

CSA Week 12

This week was quite the bounty! We had shallots, red potatoes, another cantaloupe, zucchini, squash, yellow snap beans, beets, basil, a bag of slicing tomatoes and a bag of cherry tomatoes!

Now let's talk about the beets...

I knew it was inevitable that at some point we'd most likely end up with a few beets. I'll be honest with you and tell you up front I'm not a fan. I've tried them roasted, pan fried, boiled, pureed into soup, deep fried, steamed, pickled, raw, etc. and to me they just have a really earthy flavor....Well ok they taste like dirt to me! Sorry, but they do! Someone told me you can make a chocolate cake out of beets. This interests me I must admit, though I will readily tell you one part of me is all for this idea, while the other part of me wonders if it would be a big waste of chocolate cake! ;oP I'm not sure what I'll do with these....

And basil...I still have the other two bunches from the previous two weeks in a large glass of water on the counter next to the sink. The other two bunches are still really fresh, believe it or not and have actually grown! Bet you didn't know you could "grow" basil hydroponically. I have the ingredients to make pesto, but haven't done it yet because I still don't have freezer space!

We also got a cantaloupe last week and let me tell you this is one of the best cantaloupes I've ever had! Firm, yet sweet...It was just perfect! The county in Tennessee where I grew up prides itself on its cantaloupes, but let me tell you this one easily gave them a run for their money! Yum!

Oh well. Now let's get down to What's For Dinner?!

Tonight Jamison is having steak and mashed potatoes. (Do you see a pattern with his food! ;oP) Noelle made me start thinking about veggie burgers with her response to What's For Dinner? yesterday so Alexis and I are having homemade veggie burgers on flat bread with a tomato salad.

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 12:13 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 3, 2009

What's For Dinner On The 1st Day of 1st Grade!


Since today is the first day of first grade for Miss G she gets to pick dinner this evening and her choice is pancakes! So Jamison and Lex are having gluten free pancakes, with maple syrup and bacon. I'm not feeling the pancakes today though so I'm going to most likely have a big salad with lots of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers!

What are you having?

Posted by Dianne at 1:24 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack