Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Fruit

saucescover

Sauces have more than one function in a recipe. A sauce can add moisture to naturally lean foods, such as fish and chicken breasts, or when using cooking techniques that tend to have a drying affect, such as grilling or broiling. A sauce can enhance a dish’s appearance by adding eye appeal. Pooling a bit of sauce beneath grilled fish or steak gives the dish an element of color. Many sauces include a garnish that adds texture to the finished dish.

It is often difficult to find a really good store-bought sauce to accent your food. In the summer when fruits, vegetables and fragrant herbs are in abundance, homemade sauces are so much better drizzled over just about anything. The homemade sauces below are perfect served with grilled beef, chicken, pork or fish, tossed with beans or pasta or drizzled over vegetables and grains. Just let your imagination run with it. These sauces come together quickly and easily and are great to keep on hand. And just a little bit goes a long way.

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Fresh Pickle Relish

This relish is easy to make and is good on hot dogs, burgers and grilled sausage.

Ingredients

8 servings

  • 1-2 cucumbers (1 pound), peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled ginger
  • 1 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Kosher salt

Directions

Place the chopped cucumber in a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl; toss with 1 teaspoon salt. Let sit 10 minutes, then squeeze well to remove as much moisture as possible (do not rinse).

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and cook, stirring, just until they begin to pop, about 1 minute. Add onion and cook 3 minutes. Mix in ginger and turmeric and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add vinegar and sugar and cook until syrupy, about 5 minutes longer. Mix in cucumber; transfer to a small bowl and season with additional salt, if needed. Let cool. Cover and chill.  Relish can be made 1 week ahead.

sauce2

Tzatziki Sauce

A cooling, garlicky yogurt sauce that’s great with grilled meats and vegetables.

Ingredients

Makes 3 Cups

  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, very finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh mint for garnish

Directions

Mix cucumber, garlic, yogurt, dill, lemon juice and oil in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Cover and let sit at room temperature until flavors meld, at least 1 hour.

Garnish with mint. Tzatziki can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.

sauce3

Grilled Tomato Salsa

This salsa is especially good on grilled meats and fish.

Ingredients

Makes 2 Cups

  • Grilled Tomatoes (see recipe below)
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped oil-packed anchovies
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rinsed capers
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Coarsely chop grilled tomatoes and add garlic, basil, oil, anchovies, capers and lemon zest. Break up the tomatoes to release their juices as you mix the ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature until serving time.

Grilled Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 pints ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine (such as Sun Gold, Black Cherry or teardrop; about 24 oz.)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix tomatoes with oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat, turning occasionally, until tomatoes are charred and blistered, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

sauce4

Summer Herb Sauce

This sauce is delicious drizzled over grilled vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram leaves
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons water, or more if necessary
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

Puree basil, parsley, marjoram, garlic and oil in a food processor or blender. With the motor running, add water and process until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, stir in capers and season with salt.

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Caponata

Serve this sauce over grilled swordfish. A classic Italian dish.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 each Italian frying pepper and orange and yellow bell peppers
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled or unpeeled according to taste
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

Directions

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and peppers; sauté 2 minutes or until soft. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds until aromatic. Add eggplant and, stirring often, cook 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in marinara sauce, cover; reduce heat and simmer, stirring twice, about 12 minutes, or until the eggplant is very tender.

Add vinegar and capers to caponata. Cover and simmer 5 minutes to develop flavors. Serve at room temperature.

sauce5

Simple Fruit Sauce

Use this sauce to pour over fresh cut melon, grilled peaches, plain cake or ice cream.

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh fruit in season
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4-5 tablespoon sugar or honey, to taste
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Directions

Puree the fruit in a blender with the lemon juice. Blend in the sugar by the tablespoonful, tasting after each addition, until the desired degree of sweetness is reached. Add cinnamon.

Strain through a fine strainer, pressing with a rubber spatula. Chill sauce until serving time.


summerpiecover

Pies are wonderfully seasonal and summer provides an abundance of fruits to use as fillings. With so many choices, it is difficult to pick a favorite. Thinking about making a pie with some of your summer fruit? Try one of these easy recipes below.

Start with the Pie Crust

I like to make fruit pies with a crunchy topping rather than a top crust, so I use the recipe from King Arthur Flour for a No Roll Pie Crust. This delicious, flaky and easy to make crust is also a plus for those watching their diet, since it does not have any trans fats or cholesterol and it is also vegan. You can use melted butter in place of the oil, but it will no longer be vegan.

Easy No Roll Pie Crust

Ingredients for a two-crust pie:

3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

In a separate bowl, whisk together the following:

2/3 cup oil: canola, vegetable, olive, peanut or melted butter

6 tablespoons cold water

Pour the oil mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula or fork until the dough is evenly moistened.

Separate 2/3 of the dough and place it in a 9″ pie pan, reserving 1/3 for the top crust. If you have a scale, this is easy to measure out; if you don’t, just eyeball it.

Pat the dough across the bottom of the pie pan and up the sides. A flat-bottomed measuring cup or glass helps smooth it out. Flute the top of the pastry around the pan.

Add the filling. Then either roll the remaining dough and lay it on top or add 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons brown sugar to the remainder.

After you fill the bottom crust, break the topping into small pieces and spread it evenly over the filling. The topping will be crisp and streusel looking.

Bake according to the recipes below.

summerpiepeach

For Peach Pie

  • No Roll Pie Crust Recipe
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups fresh peach slices (about 10 peeled peaches, sliced; about 2 1/2 pounds whole peaches)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

Follow the directions above for making the pie crust.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Mix the sugar, flour and salt in a large bowl. Toss with the peaches, extracts and lemon juice. Spoon into the crust lined 9 inch pie pan.

Make the topping and place it on top of the filling.

Place the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet to catch any spills.

Bake for 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for 40 minutes more or until the filling bubbles and the topping is brown.

Remove the pie from the oven and cool it completely on a wire rack before slicing.

summerpieblueberry

For Blueberry Pie

  • No Roll Pie Crust Recipe
  • 6 cups fresh blueberries rinsed and stems removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces

Directions

Follow the directions above for making the pie crust.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Gently mix together the blueberries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, lemon zest and lemon juice in a large bowl. Transfer the filling to the crust lined 9 inch pie pan. Dot with butter pieces.

Make the topping and place it on top of the filling.

Place the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet to catch any spills.

Bake for 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for 40 minutes more or until the filling bubbles and the topping is brown.

Remove the pie from the oven and cool it completely on a wire rack before slicing.

blueberry-crumble-pie

For Blackberry Pie

  • No Roll Pie Crust
  • 5 cups blackberries, rinsed, picked clean, patted dry
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions

Place blackberries, brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, almond extract and flour in a large bowl.

Gently fold the berries until they are all well coated with sugar. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Follow the directions above for making the pie crust.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Transfer the filling to the crust lined 9 inch pie pan.

Make the topping and place it on top of the filling.

Place the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet to catch any spills.

Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until the crust has browned and the filling is bubbly.

summerpieplum

For Plum Pie

  • No Roll Pie Crust
  • 4 cups sliced red or purple plums (about 2 1/4 pounds, 10 to 12 plums)
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Directions

Place plums, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger and lemon extract in a large bowl and mix gently. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Follow the directions above for making the pie crust.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Transfer the filling to the crust lined 9 inch pie pan.

Make the topping and place it on top of the filling.

Place the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet to catch any spills.

Bake pie at 375°F oven for 50 minutes or until fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with whipped cream or ice cream.

summerpieapricot

For Apricot Pie

  • No roll Pie Crust
  • 4 cups fresh apricots, peeled and sliced
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces

Directions

Follow the directions above for making the pie crust.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, mix apricots, brown sugar, flour, ginger and cinnamon. Spoon into the crust lined 9 inch pie pan. Dot with butter.

Make the topping and place it on top of the filling.

Place the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet, to catch any spills.

Bake at 425°F. for 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for 40 minutes more or until the filling bubbles and the crust is brown.

Remove the pie from the oven and cool it completely on a wire rack before slicing.


July4cover

Make this fabulous BBQ sauce a day or two before the holiday and it can be used on anything you decide to grill. It is especially good on ribs, pork chops and chicken. I usually make a combination of some pork chops and some chicken because that is best for a crowd. Don’t forget plenty of vegetables to grill for your vegetarian friends. This sauce is great on veggies as well.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon regular chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add the ketchup, molasses, vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder, Worcestershire, dry mustard, cayenne, allspice and 1/4 cup water and mix to combine. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes; remove from heat.

Baste the meat with some sauce during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Transfer meat to a platter and baste again with more sauce.

July4pork

If you choose pork chops:

8 bone-in pork chops (about 8 ounces each and 1-inch thick). Grill pork chops until just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes per side.

July4chicken

If you choose chicken:

Bone-in Breast, Leg & Thigh 12-15 minutes per side.

July 4appetizer

Peach and Prosciutto Bruschetta Appetizer

The cheese mixture can be prepared in advance. Do not assemble the bruschetta until just before serving, otherwise the peaches will turn brown and the bread will lose its freshness.

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (6-ounce) baguette, cut diagonally into 16 slices
  • Olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced shallots
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 ounce regular or reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1 large ripe peach, cut into 16 wedges
  • 1 ounce Italian prosciutto, cut into 16 thin slices

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill to high. Oil the grates.

Lightly coat bread slices with olive oil; grill 2 minutes on each side or until toasted.

Combine mascarpone and next 3 ingredients (through cream cheese) in a small bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon basil. Spread cheese mixture evenly on the toasted bread slices.

Wrap each peach wedge with 1 prosciutto slice. Top each bread slice with 1 wrapped peach wedge.Arrange bruschetta on a serving platter and sprinkle with remaining chopped basil.

Serve immediately.

July4potatoes

Lemony Green Bean Potato Salad

This type of potato salad goes well with the rich BBQ sauce used on the meat. It can also handle the July heat much better than mayonnaise dressed salads.

12 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

Directions

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with lightly salted water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until tender. Add the green beans to the pot during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, herbs, vinegar, lemon peel, salt and pepper in a measuring cup or small bowl.

Drain potatoes and green beans. Place in a serving bowl; add onion and pour the lemon dressing over the potatoes; toss to coat.

Chill in the refrigerator until serving time.

July4 tomato

Mediterranean Tomato Salad

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Kalamata  olives, pitted and sliced

Directions

Alternate tomatoes and onion on an attractive serving platter.

In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic, basil and oregano together; drizzle over the vegetables. Top with the sliced olives and then the cheese. Serve at room temperature.

July4cake

Blueberry Shortcakes

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon minced lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat milk
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F

.Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat; cook 3 minutes or until berries begin to pop, stirring frequently. Set aside.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour, baking powder and salt in a food processor; pulse 3 times to combine.

Add butter and lemon zest to the processor and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Place mixture in a large bowl; add milk, stirring just until moist. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into an even rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.

Cut dough into 8 even wedges.

Place wedges one inch apart on a baking sheet. Combine egg white and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Lightly brush the tops of the wedges with the egg white mixture; sprinkle evenly with sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Place cream in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.

Split shortcakes in half horizontally; spoon 1/3 cup berry mixture over each bottom half. Top each with 2 tablespoons whipped cream; cover with shortcake tops and serve.


 

beachcover

One of my favorite things about living near the Gulf is that the beach is so close to us. There is nothing better than relaxing in the sun, digging your toes into warm sand and spending the day with friends. Beach trips require an adjustment in thinking about what foods to pack for a lunch, however. That means you don’t want snacks that will wilt in a cooler on a hot day or use food containers that will let sand inside. And you don’t want to have to deal with a lot of utensils or dishes.

Hands-down the most obvious beach must-have is bottled water. Without adequate hydration, you run the risk of heat stroke. Do not forget the sunblock, either. I have seen too many people turn lobster red before the end of the day.

By bringing snacks like nuts and dried fruits, which are packed with protein and carbohydrates, you’ll have delicious and easy snacks that will give you energy all day long. Pita, pretzels and chips are all delicious with dips like hummus or salsa, but dips are not the best idea for a snack at the beach. One gust of wind and you may get more sand in the container than you want. The less exposed your food is to the elements, the better.

Mayonnaise does not hold up once it leaves the refrigerator. Instead, opt for a vinaigrette or use sandwich condiments, like pesto, to add flavor. Dairy products are best left at home, as they are highly unstable if not kept at the right temperature.

Think of healthy, but filling food to take to the beach.

Choose pita bread or wraps for sandwiches instead of bread slices that may get soggy.

Keep all condiments separated from other food. Use small Tupperware containers for sauces or dressing.

Pack light and non-salty snacks for kids in individual ziplock sandwich bags. Prepare chopped fresh vegetables, like carrot slices, red, yellow and green pepper sticks, cherry tomatoes, celery, crackers and raisins that can be enjoyed as a small snack.

Go with light meats, such as turkey slices or grilled chicken. They are excellent choices to place in a sandwich wrap.

Try to create snacks that are based upon finger foods. Fruit that can be eaten out-of-hand, like grapes, apples, pears and peaches along with cheese that isn’t too melty — cheddar, Swiss and Gouda, for example, are best for the beach. Cookies and brownies are best for dessert.

How to pack the cooler.

Start with a great insulated cooler. Make sure it’s size appropriate for your entire family. It gets pretty tiring lugging lots of bags from the car to the sand.

Food and drinks that are going to be used last should go on the bottom of the cooler. You don’t want to be digging through the ice or other items just to get one thing.

Place the heaviest and biggest items on the bottom, while the lightest and smallest items should be placed on the top.

Always add ice cubes or ice packs to the cooler after the items have been added to act as a buffer between the food and the heat.

Bring cleaning supplies.

Baby wipes are recommended to take with you to the beach. Unlike napkins, baby wipes help to moisturize the skin and they remove sand more efficiently than dry cloths or paper napkins.

Take extra plastic bags with you. To minimize trash blowing away and litter in general, you can easily place your trash in the plastic bag. Toss the entire bag in a nearby trash barrel on your way out.

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Sunset Beach BBQ

Be sure you wrap up raw meats and pack them with individual ice packs. Make sure your cooler can keep any raw ingredients cool enough, long enough.

Marinate meat the night before, since the marinade will help preserve the meat.

Bring vegetables, like bell peppers and corn on the cob, to give you some variety on the grill. This will satisfy any vegetarians in your group and it will also free up space in the cooler since veggies don’t need to be kept cold.

Frozen fruits serve double duty. As an alternative to ice cubes, freeze grapes or berries, then add them to your cooler when you head to the beach. Not only are frozen fruits refreshing, but they will also help keep the temperature down in a cooler.

Beach Friendly Food

Gullible: those who believe they can have a picnic at the beach.

 

Crunch Mix

beach3

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cinnamon-flavored oat square cereal
  • 2/3 cup dried baked apple pieces
  • 1/2 cup shelled lightly salted pistachio nuts or coarsely chopped, toasted pecans
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins

Directions

In medium bowl combine cereal, apple pieces, nuts and raisins. Divide evenly into 6 sandwich bags.

Chicken and Hummus Pitas

beach1

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Dash salt
  • Dash black pepper
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (8 to 12 ounces)
  • 2 large whole wheat pita bread rounds, halved
  • 1 cup homemade of store-bought hummus
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumber
  • 1/3 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt

Directions

In a small bowl combine oil, lemon juice, paprika, salt and pepper.

Place chicken on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. Brush both sides of chicken with the oil mixture. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat for 7 minutes. Turn chicken; broil 5 to 8 minutes more or until chicken is no longer pink. Cool slightly; cut into strips.

Carefully open pita halves and spread each with a ¼ cup of hummus; add sliced chicken, tomatoes, cucumber and yogurt.

Wrap each sandwich well in aluminium foil. The foil will help hold the sandwich together while you eat it.

Cucumber and Apricot Sandwiches

beach2

4 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil
  • 8 slices firm-textured whole wheat bread
  • 2 large apricots or 1 nectarine, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup arugula leaves

Directions

Peel cucumber. Cut cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Thinly slice cucumber; set aside.

In a small bowl stir together the cream cheese, basil and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Spread about 1 tablespoon cheese mixture on one side of each bread slice.

Top four bread slices with cucumber, apricot and arugula.

Top with remaining bread slices, cream cheese side down.

Cut each sandwich in half diagonally. Wrap well in foil.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

beach4

40 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.

In a small bowl, combine raisins and boiling water; set aside.

In a large electric mixer bowl, combine peanut butter and butter; beat with the electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.

Add sugar, egg, cinnamon, vanilla and baking soda. Beat until combined.

Add flour; beat until smooth. Stir in oats.

Drain the raisins; stir raisins and chocolate chips into the oat mixture.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks; let cool.

Pack into sandwich bags for individual servings at the beach.

Don't forget the frozen grapes.

Don’t forget the frozen grapes.


tomatocover

Summer is a great time for tomatoes. This is when they are at their best – deep red, juicy and intense in flavor. There are Beefsteak, Roma, Vine-Ripened, Grape, Cherry, Heirloom and so many other types of tomatoes. Each has their own flavor and each can be used in multiple ways.

Perhaps you grow tomatoes, or you are the lucky recipient of someone who has too many to use or maybe you are indulging in the bounty at the farmers’ market. However, you come by your tomatoes, now is the perfect time to try new and exciting things with them. Of course, you know, you can use fresh tomatoes to make tomato sauce, salsa or bruschetta and, you know, they taste great in salads and sandwiches. Below are a few different ways to use up some of your tomatoes.

tomato3

Tomato, Watermelon and Feta Appetizer

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen skewers

Ingredients

  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups 1-inch watermelon cubes
  • 4 ounces whole feta cheese, cut into 18 cubes
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 18 (3-inch) wooden skewers
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Directions

In a large bowl, place the tomatoes, watermelon, lime juice, mint, salt and pepper. Gently toss the ingredients, cover the bowl and chill 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Thread 1 tomato piece, 1 watermelon cube and 1 feta cube onto a skewer and place on a serving platter. Repeat with remaining skewers.

Drizzle with the remaining marinade in the bowl and a little olive oil. Serve immediately.

tomato4

Chilled Green Tomato Soup with Crab Meat

Have green tomatoes? Here is something to make instead of fried green tomatoes.

Makes about 3 quarts

Ingredients

  • 1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 pounds firm green tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups loosely packed arugula
  • 14 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, stems removed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 2 small hot peppers, seeded and sliced
  • Lump crab meat

Directions

Melt butter with oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; add onions and cook, stirring often, 15 minutes. Add celery and chopped green bell pepper; cook, stirring often, 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes or until tomatoes are tender. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaves. Stir in arugula, basil and parsley. Let cool 30 minutes.

Process soup with an immersion blender in the pot or, in batches, in a food processor or blender until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and hot sauce and add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.

Ladle chilled soup into serving bowls and top each serving with some crab meat and a few slices of hot peppers.

tomato1

Fresh Mozzarella, Corn and Tomato Salad

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 4 ears corn-on-the-cob, in the husk
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 lb (8 oz) plum (Roma) tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes, optional
  • 10 large fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
  • 5 cups baby arugula, spinach or romaine lettuce for serving

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Soak corn in the sink or in a bowl filled with cold water for 15 minutes.

Prepare vinaigrette by whisking together oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, chives, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Once the corn has soaked, place it on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 25 minutes or until the corn kernels are tender.

Cool to room temperature; then discard husks and silks. Cut the kernels off the cobs and put them in a large serving bowl. Add mozzarella, tomatoes, olives, avocado, if using, and basil.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Toss gently to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed, and serve over a bed of greens.

tomato2

Fresh Tomato Cheese Tart

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 medium tomatoes (You will need enough to make 2 layers)
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine bread crumbs, flour, butter and salt in a food processor until dough comes together.

Using your hands, press the dough into a 10-inch tart pan or pie plate. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

Slice the tomatoes thinly and place on paper towels. Lightly sprinkle the tomatoes with salt so they can release their juices and set aside.

In a food processor, combine ricotta, mozzarella, eggs and basil leaves just until blended.

Top the baked tart shell with a layer of tomatoes followed by the cheese filling.

Top with another layer of sliced tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake the tart until golden brown and set in center, 45 to 55 minutes.

Let rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting.

tomato5

Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage and Fresh Tomatoes

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound(12 oz) farfalle (bowtie) pasta or your favorite short pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves torn into pieces
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shaved or shredded
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente. Drain and toss with the olive oil. Set aside.

Preheat a large skillet. Cut the casing off the sausage and add it to the pan, crumbling it into small pieces.

Add garlic and cook until the sausage is browned and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes.

Add cooked sausage to the pasta with the basil, tomatoes, cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.


freezingcover

Freezing vegetables is a fast and easy form of preserving food, such as asparagus, broccoli, green beans, peppers, summer squash, tomatoes and berries. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP), fruits and vegetables will last in the freezer for eight to 12 months if prepared and stored properly. Vacuum-seal bags cost more than regular freezer bags, but advocates say they are worth the extra expense because they make frozen foods last even longer.

Most freezer bags are made of No. 4 LDPE (low-density polyethylene), which is not known to leach chemicals. If you’re worried about putting hot food into plastic, however, wait until the food cools before packing it into bags. Freezer bags are ideal because they can lay flat in the freezer and not take up too much room.

Only freeze fruits and vegetables that are in excellent condition and that have been thoroughly cleaned. Some vegetables you plan to freeze should be blanched for a few minutes. Blanching — the process of heating vegetables with boiling water or steam for a set amount of time, then immediately plunging them into cold or iced water — stops enzyme activity that causes vegetables to lose nutrients and change texture. The cooled vegetables can then be packed into freezer-safe storage containers. Fruits or blanched vegetables can also be patted dry with clean kitchen towels, frozen in a single layer on cookie sheets and, then, put into containers. Using cookie sheets for freezing ensures that the fruits and vegetables won’t all stick together, thus allowing you to remove a handful at a time from the container.

Blanching Vegetables

Get a blanching pot, which has a basket and cover, or fit a wire basket into a large pot with a lid. Boil 1 gallon of water per pound of vegetables in the pot. Lower the basket of vegetables into vigorously boiling water and cover with the lid. The water should resume boiling within 1 minute; if it doesn’t, you have too much vegetable or too little water. Start the blanching time when the water returns to a boil.

As soon as the recommended blanching time elapses, pull the vegetable basket out of the boiling water and plunge it into cold water (60°F or colder) for the same length of time as you blanched them. Drain the vegetables thoroughly after cooling—extra moisture ruins the produce in the freezer. Package in freezer containers.

Blanching Times

Vegetable Quantity (yields 1 pint) Blanching time (minutes)
Asparagus 1 to 1 1/2 lbs 2 (small), 3 (medium), 4 (large)
Beans (snap, green, wax) 3/4 to 1 lb 3
Beets 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs Until tender, then slice or dice
Broccoli 1 lb 3
Brussels sprouts 1 lb 3 (small), 4 (medium), 5 (large)
Carrots 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs 2 (sliced or diced), 5 (small whole)
Cauliflower 1 1/4 lbs 3
Corn on the cob 6 to 8 ears 7 (small), 9 (medium), 11 (large)
Eggplant 1 to 1 1/2 lbs 4
Peas (snap or snow) 2 to 2 1/2 lbs 1 1/2 (small), 2 (large)

Unblanched Freezing

This is the fastest, easiest method of freezing vegetables. It was originally thought that this method was acceptable only for chopped onions, peppers, fresh herbs or vegetables that were to be stored for less than 1 month. But I have found that many unblanched, frozen vegetables can be stored for up to twice as long and still maintain good color, flavor and texture. Try this method with onions, peppers, herbs, celery, corn in husks, cabbage, sugar snap peas, summer squash, young tender broccoli and green beans. It is the preferred method to use with berries. It can also be used with high quality fruits, especially ones you plan to use semi-thawed or baked in a dessert such as a crisp or a crumble.

1. You will need a scrubbing-brush, towels, freezer bags and a labeling pen and tape.

2. Select vegetables that are slightly immature. Wash the vegetables and drain on towels.

3. Prepare the vegetables: slice, dice, chop, Julienne or leave whole. Leave berries whole; peel and slice or chop other fruit.

4. Pack in freezer bags, expelling as much air as possible. Label with the name of the fruit or vegetable and date.

5. Freeze in a single layer in the coldest part of the freezer.

6. The best methods of cooking vegetables frozen in this manner are stir-frying and steaming.

Bell Peppers

It’s pepper season, which means that you will find plenty of peppers at the market for a very reasonable price. Buy extra and freeze them for the winter months when fresh peppers are expensive – especially the red ones.

Peppers can be frozen without blanching:

All you have to do is slice the upper fourth of each pepper off, remove the peppers’ ribs and seeds, place the gutted peppers — along with their tops — inside freezer bags, then expel the air from the bags, seal tight and place them in the freezer.

freezing6

Roasted Red Pepper Recipe

Wash red peppers and cut out any blemished spots.

Place whole peppers on a hot grill or under a hot broiler. Use tongs to turn peppers as needed until they’re blistered on all sides with brown and black patches.

Place the hot, roasted peppers in a large pot with a lid or enclose them in a paper bag. Allow them to cool. When the peppers are cool, use your hands and a table knife to remove loose pieces of skin. Cut peppers in half and remove cores.

Freeze the roasted peppers on cookie sheets and then pack into freezer-safe containers. Roasted peppers can be used for dozens of recipes.

freezing2

Stuffed Green Bell Peppers

Ingredients

  • 8 frozen whole green peppers
  • 2/3 cup uncooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 six-ounce can of tomato paste
  • 3 cups of water
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Stand the frozen peppers upright in a Dutch Oven.

Next, heat the rice in the oil in a frying pan and when the rice begins to turn brown add the garlic and onion. When both are browned, add the ground beef to the pan, break the meat into small chunks and cook until brown. Stuff each peppers about half full with the rice-onion-beef mixture.

Wipe out the pan and empty the can of tomato paste into the pan. Heat the paste until visibly darkened, stirring constantly. Add three cups of water to the pan, stir to dissolve the browned paste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the tomato sauce into and around each of the stuffed peppers so that they are filled with and standing in liquid. Put the tops back on the peppers, cover the saucepan tightly and cook over low heat until the rice is done (30 to 45 minutes).

Corn

Experts recommend blanching sweet corn before freezing it, which locks in taste, texture and nutrition. You can freeze whole, blanched ears, if you have freezer space, or cut the kernels from blanched, cooled ears and freeze only the kernels. I save some of the cobs and simmer them in water to cover and to make corn broth. Corn broth is a great base for vegetable soups and chowders.

For corn that’s ready to heat and eat in the winter, try this easy roasting method. Cut the corn kernels off a dozen or more ears. Spread the kernels out in a big baking pan, dot with 8 oz of butter cut into small pieces and add enough milk to cover the bottom of the pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until piping hot, stirring every 10 minutes. After the roasted corn cools, spoon the mixture into freezer bags.

freezing3

Corn Chowder

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 small leek (white and light green parts), thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into a 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • Pinch ground nutmeg

Directions

In a large saucepan, over medium-low heat, fry the bacon until browned but not crisp, about 5 minutes. Spoon off and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings.

Add the leek, thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the milk and potatoes. Simmer gently until the potatoes are almost tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the corn and cook for 5 minutes. Add the nutmeg and ladle into bowls.

Tomatoes

When it comes to tomatoes I take the easy way. I prefer to quarter and core the tomatoes and place them, uncooked, in gallon freezer bags. These tomatoes are excellent for making tomato sauce or soup. No extra work removing the skins before freezing, because after being frozen the skins slip right off after I take them out of the freezer.

freezing1

Pasta Sauce from Frozen Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon bag of frozen tomatoes (as described above), partially defrosted
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried

Directions

Remove the tomato skins.

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until tender in a large Dutch Oven., Add tomatoes and seasonings.

Heat on medium to boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for at least 2-3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.

For a thicker consistency, remove the lid and raise the heat to medium and cook until more liquid evaporates. The longer this sauce simmers the better it is.

Summer Squash

Despite their profusion in the garden, summer squash — including zucchini, yellow squash and patty pans — are lightweights in the flavor department. They’re also spoil rapidly. I like to hollow out zucchini squash for stuffing and steam them before freezing. They are then ready for stuffing and baking throughout the year.

The standard procedure for freezing summer squash is to blanch half-inch slices in boiling water or steam for three minutes. However, I don’t care for them prepared this way since they get mushy when cooked after being frozen.

Another method for freezing summer squash is to slice zucchini horizontally into large, flat slices before blanching. These can be grilled or used to make roll-ups. You can also freeze grated squash to add to baked goods. Zucchini bread is excellent made with frozen, shredded zucchini.

freezing5

Freezer Zucchini Bread

Defrost the zucchini in the refrigerator overnight or if you forget just defrost it in the microwave. You may want to double the ingredients and make 2 loaves.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/4 cups frozen shredded zucchini, defrosted 
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Directions

In a small bowl, beat the sugar, applesauce, oil, egg whites and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and baking soda; gradually beat into the sugar mixture. Fold in zucchini and walnuts.

Transfer to an 8-inch x 4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° F for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 1 loaf (12 slices).

Green Beans

You can freeze most types of snap beans, including yard-long beans. The more substantial the bean, the better they are for freezing. For example, pencil-thin green beans soften too much when blanched and frozen, but bigger, firmer green beans are fine. After blanching green beans, you can put them directly into freezer containers, or pat them dry and freeze them on a cookie sheet before placing them in freezer bags.

When cooking thawed green beans, use a “dry” cooking method, such as braising them in a little butter or olive oil, instead of cooking them in boiling water.

freezing4

Baked Parmesan Frozen Green Beans

Ingredients

  • 4 cups frozen whole green beans
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and spray with olive oil cooking spray.

Place the bag of green beans in the microwave for 3-4 minutes or until just thawed (or you could leave them out at room temperature for a few hours).

Place the beans on the prepared baking pan, making sure they are evenly spread out and none are laying on top of each other.

Sprinkle seasonings and Parmesan cheese evenly over green beans.

Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.

 


gardenfreshcover

Take a trip to your local farmers’ market and check out all the fresh fruits and vegetables it has to offer. You will quickly see all the possibilities that you can make for dinner. In fact, I have to stop myself from buying more than I can cook in a week – it all looks so good. Here are some easy dinner suggestions to use up what you bring home from the market.

Dinner 1

gardenfresh7

Grilled Chicken With Fresh Basil Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • 25-30 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 4 boneless chicken cutlets
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 5 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat the grill to high and oil the grates

Chop basil (will yield about 6 tablespoons) and tomatoes coarsely.

Place tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of the basil in food processor (or blender); process and set aside.

Season both sides of the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.

Combine in a shallow bowl: 1 tablespoon of the oil, 2 teaspoons of the garlic and remaining 4 tablespoons of basil. Add chicken and turn to coat evenly. Marinate 10 minutes, turning occasionally.

Place chicken on the grill and discard any remaining marinade. Close the lid and grill for about 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F. Use a meat thermometer to accurately ensure doneness.

To the processed tomato-basil mixture add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar and remaining garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; pulse 2-3 times or until just blended.

Serve sauce with the chicken.

Couscous with Peas, Lemon and Herbs

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup plain couscous
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup cooked fresh peas 
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Directions

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.

Stir in the broth and lemon zest. Bring to a boil.

Stir in the couscous and peas and remove the pot from the heat. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fold the parsley and lemon juice into the couscous. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve alongside the chicken.

Dinner 2

gardenfresh3

Garden Soup

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 cup small onions, peeled and halved
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup carrots, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 3 cups homemade vegetable broth or two 14.5-ounce cans vegetable or chicken broth
  • One 14 1/2 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup shelled peas 
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Directions

In a Dutch Oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add fennel and onions; cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until fragrant and translucent.

Add green beans and carrots; cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth, undrained tomatoes, wine and Italian seasoning.

Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes. Add peas and simmer about 5 minutes more or until the vegetables are tender.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve in individual soup bowls.

gardenfresh1

Corn and Ricotta Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 ears fresh corn-on-the-cob, kernels removed from the cob
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil, chopped fine
  • 4 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup self-rising unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt

Directions

In a medium-sized bowl, combine corn, basil, ricotta, eggs, flour and a pinch of black pepper.

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil.

Carefully add spoonfuls of the corn mixture to the hot pan.

Cook on both sides until golden brown. Remove cakes to a serving platter when they finish cooking.

Season with Kosher salt.

Serve with low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt on the side, if desired.

Dinner 3

gardenfresh5

Grilled Lamb Chops with Vegetable Bulgur

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup Bulgar wheat
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 lamb loin chops, cut 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 2 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning, divided
  • Olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups small spinach leaves 
  • One 7 ounce jar roasted red sweet peppers, drained and coarsely chopped

Directions

In a medium saucepan combine broth, bulgur and onion. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Stir 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning, the spinach and roasted peppers into the bulgur mixture. Cover and keep warm.

Preheat an outdoor grill to high and oil the grill grates. Turn off one side of the grill for indirect cooking.

Trim fat from the meat. Brush the chops with olive oil and sprinkle the meat with 1 teaspoon of the lemon-pepper seasoning.

Start the lamb on the indirect side of the grill. When the meat reaches 110°F for medium-rare on an instant read meat thermometer, moved the chops to the hot side of the grill.

They’ll quickly sear and come up to the desired temperature of 120°—130°F. Let them rest for 10 minutes off the grill on a platter before serving.

To serve: Divide bulgur mixture among 4 dinner plates. Top each with a grilled lamb chop.

gardenfresh4

Cucumber Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large or 3 medium cucumbers, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt  
  • 1/3 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed black pepper

Directions

Halve cucumbers lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds. Slice crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick pieces.

Place the cucumber slices in a colander set over a bowl and toss with the salt; let stand 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, dill, vinegar and pepper.

Remove cucumbers from the colander and pat dry with paper towels.

Add to the bowl with the yogurt dressing; toss to combine and serve with the grilled lamb chops.

Dinner 4

gardenfresh2

Pasta with Shrimp and Seasonal Vegetables

Bread sticks would be great with this dinner.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen medium wild caught shrimp, shelled and de-veined
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil,  divided
  • 8 ounces fresh, small, thin green beans, trimmed
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 4 oz linguine pasta

Directions

Cook the pasta according to directions for al dente. Drain.

For the sauce:

In a small bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon peel, lemon juice and capers. Set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the green beans and Italian seasoning to the skillet; cook and stir for 3 minutes.

Add shrimp; cook and stir about 3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque. Add tomatoes; cook for 1 minute more. Add the cooked pasta and the sauce. Toss gently and serve.

Dinner 5

gardenfresh6

Grilled Sweet Potato Packets

Ingredients

  • 1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 (24 x 12-inch) sheet nonstick aluminum foil
  • Half of a 10 oz bag of frozen sweet potato fries (such as Alexia brand)
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Directions

Preheat the grill to high and oil the grates. Turn off one of the burners for indirect cooking.

Place peppers and onions in the center of the foil sheet. Top with the sweet potatoes, seasoned salt, pepper and cheese.

Bring up foil sides; double-fold the top and the ends to seal the package.

Place on the grill (seam side up) over indirect heat; grill 30 minutes or until the fries are hot and the cheese is melted.

Grilled Steak with Artichoke Topping

Ingredients

  • 1 (7.5-oz) jar marinated artichokes, undrained and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 lbs sirloin steak, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Combine artichokes, onions and garlic in a small skillet. Heat on low and, then, keep warm until the steaks are cooked.

About 10 minutes before the potatoes are cooked, plan on cooking the steaks on the direct side of the grill.

Season the steaks with salt and pepper.

Place the steaks on the direct side of the grill and cook 5 minutes; turn and cook 3-4 minutes more minutes or until the temperature of the meat reaches 125°F on an instant read meat thermometer for medium rare.

Remove steaks from the grill and place them on a serving platter. Let stand 5 minutes; slice and top with the warm artichoke mixture.



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