Tag Archives: Tomatoes

Seasonal Recipe: Homemade Salsa

20 Jul

Snack of champions: chips and homemade salsa.

Grace’s hippie sister, Emily, here, surfacing for the first time in months to share a recipe that should come in handy for anybody who has a vegetable garden (or a neighbor with a garden).

That’s right, kids: It’s salsa time.

Use an entire head of garlic. Seriously.

Start by throwing a big handful of cilantro (one bunch from the grocery store or whatever you have in your garden will do) into a food processor and pulsing it until it’s nice and fine and feathery. Next, take a head of garlic, separate and peel the cloves, cut off the ends, and throw ’em into the food processor. Give ’em a good whirl to mince them, then add hot peppers to taste. Four serranos will give you a nice medium-hot salsa; adjust the quantity to suit your taste, and feel free to substitute whatever peppers you prefer (or need to use up).

I like red onions, but red or yellow will work as well.

Next, add three cored, quartered bell peppers in any color and a peeled, quartered onion, processing after each addition. Add the juice of two or three small limes — proportions aren’t critical, but you want to get a little extra acid in there for canning purposes — and process to mix.

Tomatillos look like little green tomatoes with husks.

If you can put your hands on some tomatillos, peel and core about five of them and add them to the mix at this point. If you can’t, don’t worry about it; they aren’t absolutely necessary, but they do add a nice flavor if you happen to have them. Process, then dump the mixture into a large bowl to make room in the food processor for your tomatoes.

Core and quarter about three pounds of tomatoes (Romas are ideal, but any kind will do; just be aware that the juicier varieties will make a finished product that’s more like picante sauce than salsa) and chop them in the food processor.

Now, here is a neat trick: If you have extra cucumbers that you need to use up, you can add a couple to your salsa at this point, and nobody will be any the wiser. Just chop them finely and stir them in. You’ll never notice them by the time they’ve absorbed the other flavors. You could probably do this with zucchini, too, although I wouldn’t use too much, lest it compromise the texture.

Unless your food processor is huge, you'll have to do half the tomatoes at a time.

Stir everything together in a huge bowl. At this stage, the salsa will probably look kind of bubbly and unappealing. Remedy this by stirring in ground cumin until the froth goes away, then stirring in chili powder until the color looks nice and red.

Salsa cans well in a boiling-water bath.

You can either eat the salsa now or pack it into clean pint jars with an inch of headspace and process in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes. Serve nice and cold with plenty of tortilla chips or fresh vegetables for dipping. Makes about three quarts.

I like to bring this salsa to office parties. It always impresses people, and it’s safe for vegetarians, diabetics, and various other dieters, especially if you bring celery sticks and cucumber slices for low-carb dipping.


Easy Recipe: Bistecca Caprese alla Griglia (Grilled Capri Steak)

25 Aug

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Go ahead. Tell me your mouth isn’t watering. I Double-Dog-Dare you.

So…our oven is broken. (In case you were scratching your head at the sporadic nature of recent posts, now you know.)

Today I called Hubby from work and asked him to defrost some meat and light the grill before I got home with the kids for the evening. As I spent my day thinking about the barbecue, however, I just couldn’t seem to get myself in the mood for a big old charcoal-grilled steak.

One reason was that steaks always make me crave coffee with dinner, and let’s face it — the weather’s not that cool yet. Continue reading

Cheap Recipe: Ranch Pita Pizza

12 May

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Ranch Pita Pizza
Tidbits of leftovers morph into one of my favorite meals.

This is a variation on a breakfast dish that was offered many years ago at a now-defunct Carbondale restaurant called MacClelland’s Bistro. As they were the only place in town that delivered real breakfast food, I was an immediate fan.

When they went out of business, it was left to me to try and replicate their “Portabella Pita” at home. Over time, I discovered there were many different base ingredients that would produce similar results: pitas, pocket bread, refrigerated pizza crusts, sandwich flat rounds–the list goes on.

Similarly, I also discovered this made just as excellent a lunch/supper/snack as it did breakfast. We eat these pretty often at my house, around the clock, made from whatever bread base I find on sale at our local grocery store that week, or whatever’s been sitting on the counter a while at home. (I think the most awesome version I ever made was with miniature Boboli refrigerated pizza crusts, but I haven’t seen them available in years, at least around these parts. Such a pity.)

Ranch pita ingredients.

The simplest of ingredients.

The recipe here is for one single serving; you can replicate it as many times as you like. I made this batch out of small sandwich rounds, so I count two pieces as one sandwich round (a top and a bottom split apart). The two halves are about equal in size to one regular pita or individual-sized pizza crust, so the other ingredient ratios even out that way.

Sauteed mushrooms.

Remove from heat before mushrooms begin to reduce in size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt a couple of tablespoons butter/margarine over medium-high heat in a skillet. When skillet is hot, toss in a handful of fresh, sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle on liberal dashes of garlic powder and dill weed if desired. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until heated but not shriveled.

Jamie choosing his piece.

Jamie pointing at which piece will be his.

Meanwhile, dice half of a small tomato into 1/2″-sized pieces and toss with a dash of fresh parsley (optional). Lightly oil (any kind) the surface of the flatbread and spread about 2 teaspoons of cheap ranch or buttermilk dressing evenly over the oiled bread.

Coat with ranch dressing.

A good rule of thumb: A large smiley face is just about the right amount of dressing.

Sprinkle a small handful of shredded cheese (any kind) over the dressing.

Spoon hot mushrooms and diced tomatoes onto the “pizza” and top with another small handful of shredded cheese.

layer toppings

Layer the toppings.

Place open-faced breads in oven and cook about 10 minutes, or just until cheese melts and bread is hot. (You don’t want a crispy crust on this.)

 Remove from oven and serve.

Chef’s Note: If flatbread pieces are large,

More toppings.

The plain one in the back is Jamie's, of course.

 serve folded over like a gyro. If round servings are small, like sandwich rounds, you

Finish with more cheese.

Seal it on with additional cheese.

can either serve open-faced or stack two into a “sandwich.”

Also good to know? Leftovers make perfect microwaveable traveling companions. 🙂

Mmmm. Delicious!



Hot from the oven.

Hot from the oven.

I want one right now.

I want one right now.

Stack leftovers to avoid mess.

Make yourself a leftover "to go" sandwich.