Easy Recipe of the Week: Roasted Tomatoes 

  To all my readers and friends, I’ve been wanting to tell you all the ways I’m in a different place than I was two weeks ago.  Two weeks ago to this day, Nick and I packed our endless amount of stuff into the truck (down two flights of stairs no less), raced to South Boston, then emptied the entire truck into our new house! 

Since then, the house is laid out the way it should. In two weeks, we got a lawnmower, tv stand and a 9′ x 12′ rug for the living room (all hardwood floors). I enjoyed laying low for a week, reading this great book my sister gave me for my birthday (The Girls), but alas, a girl needs a job. I walked into Bistro 1888 looking to be a food runner, but they were so over the moon about my bakery experience, Chef Margaret has decided to ‘show me how to make everything on the menu.’ In short, it’s prep work, making dressings, sauces and marinades, and eventually, desserts. ūüėć One of my tasks included peeling and chopping roasted tomatoes, and it looked so tasty I decided to make them at home! 

This is easy easy, and the possibilities for them are endless. Eat it on toast as bruschetta or mix it into risotto, like me!

Roasted Tomatoes

Roma Tomatoes
Olive oil
S & P/other spices as desired

Start by chopping your tomatoes in half lengthwise. Cut a ‘V’ in the top of both halves to core the tomatoes.   
Place tomato halves cut side up on an oiled rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and spices. I added dried thyme, and dried basil or oregano would work as well.

Bake at 400* for 30-40 minutes, depending on how much you have. I did 5 total, 4 homegrown (smaller), and unfortunately my new oven burns much hotter than its reporting to me. I put them in at 375* for 35 minutes and didn’t think much until my husband walked past and asked what was burning. No worries, the tomato skins got black but that’s exactly what you want!
 
Let cool completely, then remove skins  (should be very easy) and chop. Cook it into tomato sauce, fold into dinner dishes, eat alone on toast with olive oil and basil. Yum yum!

Love,
Feisty

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Summer Sweetness

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Its Summer!!!!¬† Which I realized the other day means I can wear minimal clothing and still be comfortable in air conditioning (because I certainly wasn’t missing the humidity).¬† But it also means that fruit is ripe and plentiful!¬† I have already been enjoying loading up my meals with vegetables but fruit was always more of a snack for me, besides the occasional breakfast banana. Its a slow process to work it into dinners, but I’m getting there.¬† Sure, two of them were breakfasts but breakfast for dinner is a perfectly acceptable way to combine dessert and dinner. ūüėÄ

French Toast with Blueberries and Peaches

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French toast for dinner is fun, and easy. Its a great way to get rid of bread that you don’t want to eat in a sandwich.¬† Crusty bread is the best bread for french toast, but this particular dinner was just regular ole Nature’s Own Honey Wheat.¬† The easiest, least stressful way to make french toast is to do it in batches, and as they finish, you throw them onto a foil-wrapped tray in a 200 degree oven.¬† They stay warm until mealtime while you take your sweet time.¬† And once they’re finished, why not throw a little butter on the pan and toss peach slices and blueberries over medium heat until they get nice and soft. Sprinkle with cinnamon and then serve on top of french toast. Its so much more dynamic than just eggy bread.

Pork Chops with Rice and Pineapple Mint

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I have a perfect pork chop recipe, but its not quite an exact science as my perfect chicken recipe.¬† For 1″ – 1 1/4″ thick, cook 5-6 minutes on each side. For thinner pork chops, cook 4 minutes on each side, medium high heat for both. Sometimes they come out browner than other times (I think my gas stove runs hot), but the greater the sear, the juicier the meat!¬† The mint was from my growing container garden, and as you can see I couldn’t resist buying a whole pineapple to cut up. Saute the pork chops using the loose recipe above, and when its time for them to rest, throw the pineapple and mint in the pan to get them nice and soft.

Blueberry and Strawberry Pancakes

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Patriotic pancake batter!¬† This one is real easy.¬† Use your favorite pancake batter (I’m partial to Martha Stewart’s recipe), and when it’s ready, dice up a bunch of strawberries as small as the blueberries and toss them all in.¬† I ended up saving some of the fruit on my cutting board to throw it onto the pancake batter rounds, since heavy fruit can sometimes sink to the bottom of the thin batter.¬† Do the same thing with the pan in the oven as the french toast and it gets even simpler.

 

Fruit is fun and delicious, and it provides your body with the good kind of sugar.¬† Always balance it with other healthy items of course — balance is the key to life!

 

Love,
Feisty

Eat Yo Greens


Disclaimer: I am not a healthy eater. I like fresh, real foods, but I don’t try to skimp on the stuff that tastes good–fat, sugar, salt…however, I am getting married in less than 3 weeks. And what better time to try and curb your habits a bit, right?

I like salads. Salads always taste so good in restaurants, but their complexities always boggled my mind a little to make at home. Salads need balance; a crunchy element, a sweet element; what dressings complimented what ingredients?? And so on.  When I wanted to make a salad, I’d break out my classic Caesar, with romaine hearts, torn bread croutons and homemade dressing complete with anchovies and egg yolk. (Pictured above)

But then my lovely husband to be requested a salad every week. Who wants to eat the same salad week to week? The only thing worth eating every week is pizza! ;).


So I went all out with the next one. It’s Cobb, baby! Hard boiled eggs, bacon, homemade croutons–along with broccoli, tomatoes and green onion. Topped with ranch because it’s always in our house (good for dipping pizza crusts–I told you I wasn’t healthy!).


Next go around was a simpler salad, made up of various pantry items. Mushrooms, some leftover broccoli, feta cheese, tomato, and sunflower seeds. I tossed it with my own made up recipe of oil and (apple cider) vinegar because I’m sort of trying to avoid dairy. Sort of…


Tonight was another fancy salad! I candied some pecans in sugar and added them to this sweet salad of pears, avocado and blue cheese. Topped it off with a mustard vinaigrette.

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Behold, the most summery salad of all salads! I got some of those delicious little creamer potatoes and boiled them for a few minutes, blanched them in cold water, then quartered them. Grilled corn in the husk then slipped them out and cut the corn right off the cob. Add cherry tomatoes, red onion and lettuce grown from your garden and toss with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

 This is my Summer-fading-into-Fall salad. Make it easy on yourself and dice up the meat from a rotisserie chicken. Add it to one diced green apple and half a cup of oven-toasted pecans, and toss together with red leaf romaine and a mustard-orange vinaigrette.

It’s fun finding new and interesting ways to eat lettuce! I hope this post inspired you to try your hand at making a delicious salad.

Love,
Feisty

 

 

 

Ballad of the Chicken Salad

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Summer is here! Okay, maybe it’s still considered Spring, but to me it already feels like the best part of Summer. Sunny days & warm nights are perfect for grilling (even indoors!) but if you don’t want to break out the grill every night, it’s nice to enjoy something that doesn’t require cooking. Enter, the best chicken salad you have ever tasted! Eat it in a pita, eat it on a croissant, scarf down the leftovers straight out of the bowl–however you have it, you will love it. ūüėÄ

Super Awesome Chicken Salad

1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. sour cream
1 T. lemon juice (half a lemon squeeze)
2-3 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 c. cooked cubed chicken
3/4 c. quartered grapes
1/2 c. chopped, roasted walnuts

 
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In a small bowl, blend the first 5 ingredients and set aside. You can use a whisk, I used a fork.

 
20140507-194623.jpgNow, the chicken. I bought a rotisserie chicken both times I made this because
A. It was less expensive than buying two chicken breasts and
B. It’s already cooked! And seasoned! So much easier.
I didn’t measure out the 3 cups of cubed chicken, but a whole rotisserie chicken gives you a lot. It was enough for 4 servings, which is more than enough for me & my babe.

 
20140507-195148.jpgCombine the chicken, grapes and walnuts in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the chicken mixture.

 
20140507-195440.jpgMix well! Add salt and pepper to taste.

I served it with some juicy tomatoes, and I’m sure some lettuce would’ve topped it off as well. So so good!

Love,
Feisty

Oh My My, Strawberry Pie!

20130723-143042.jpgBehold the strawberry & basil pie with a lemon zest pie crust! If that doesn’t sound like the most perfect summer treat you’ve ever experienced, then I can only imagine that you were born in a very cold, very dark place.
Originally, I wasn’t going to blog this. My mom had bought 2 lbs of strawberries, forgetting her upcoming vacation, so she asked me if I could save them from being wasted. One great way to use a lot of fruit in a recipe is to make a pie, and well, I think my readers know just how much I love making pies. Borrowing the lemony crust from this recipe, and inspired by the fruit & herb combinations at my favorite lemonade stand, this became a pie I had to share with the masses! Plus, it is so delicious and so easy. 20130723-155605.jpgLemon-Strawberry Basil Pie

For the crust:
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c. butter (1 stick cut into small cubes)
1 c. flour

For the filling:
1 qt strawberries (4 cups)
3/4 c. sugar
3 T. cornstarch
1/2 c. water
10 basil leaves (optional)

First, the crust. The original recipe calls for a food processor but a. mine is currently elsewhere and b. it’s so unnecessary! Use a fork–seriously! It might take a bit longer but it’s definitely simpler. Combine sugar, zest and salt in bowl. Add butter and mix in until evenly dispersed. Add flour and mix until just combined and its crumbly. Spray 9-inch pie pan with nonstick or cover with butter. Press dough into pan and flatten with fingers so it covers evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
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And now, the filling! ¬†Remove stem and quarter your washed strawberries. ¬†Aim to keep pieces uniformly sized. ¬†Throw 3/4 of your strawberries into the cooled down pie crust, and throw the other 1/4 into a pot with the sugar, water and cornstarch. ¬†Turn heat to medium high and stir constantly. ¬†When it starts to boil, your sauce will magically transform and become so jelly! ¬†Cornstarch is awesome. ¬†Don’t boil too long; as soon as its noticeably thicker, take the pot off the heat. ¬†Let cool for a few minutes. ¬†Meanwhile, roll up your basil leaves and chop into strips, like its a tiny sushi roll. ¬†Separate the basil slivers and sprinkle into pot, mixing them in. ¬†Pour pot contents into the pie crust over the strawberries, covering evenly. ¬†Set in fridge for 2-3 hours.

When ready to serve, dollop slices with whipped cream. Best summer treat ever!!! Not sure the basil flavor really comes through, which is why it’s optional, but the pie does taste very cool and refreshing…so maybe it lends more than I realize. Basil or not, this pie makes me yearn for a summer barbecue to bring it to.
Seriously, it’s out of sight!
Love,
Feisty
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Like (Mini) Strawberry Pie

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If you’ve been following this blog, you know that pies are nothing to be afraid of.¬† Easy as pie might refer to eating one (in most people’s minds), but not in Feisty’s world.¬† Mixing together a pie crust – easy!¬† Making the filling – usually, even easier! Going mini, well…that’s just the next step in food domination, isn’t it?¬† I like to think that every new thing I learn how to do will someday serve me well should I end up in a Chopped-like situation, having only 30 minutes to combine who knows what into a delightful dessert.

And these pies scream summer to me.  Strawberries are bright, sweet, and refreshing, everything you want in a summer treat.  I can just picture a few lazy kids sitting in the sun, drinking watered-down white wine & gorging on their own single serving strawberry pie.
The mini pies travel and share well; I can attest to this since they were my “dish to share” for my girl, Jessica’s Memorial weekend party in Culpeper.¬† I will say, though, that it seems the warmer they get, the more they fall apart.¬† I personally preferred them more cool than warm, and the pie crust definitely tastes better after a few days.

MINI STRAWBERRY PIES
Makes 9 pies

For crust:
1 c. cake flour
1 c. regular flour
3/4 c. cold butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 eggs
Mix both cups of flour together in bowl.  Add butter and mix with paddle attachment on Low for 1 minute.
I do not have a paddle attachment, so I ended up treating this like biscuit dough and cutting the butter through the flour with a fork.  Just make sure you get the butter mashed up pretty good.
Add 2 lightly beaten eggs & mix on Medium Low until dough forms cohesive mass.  Put dough into disc, wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge.
Once mixed, the dough did not come together as described so I used my hands to form it together.  You can tell when the dough is ready for this; it will hold together easily and stay formed into a ball.

For filling:
1/2 c. regular flour
1 T. cornstarch
1/2 c. UNPACKED brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
1 dash cinnamon
1 dash nutmeg
4 c. halved strawberries (you will need slightly more than 1-16 oz container)
1 T. vanilla extract
In a clean bowl (I use same bowl after washing it out), mix together flour, cornstarch, both sugars, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  In different bowl, toss strawberries with vanilla extract, then toss into the dry ingredients. One suggestion: cut strawberries into uniform shapes.  I halved all strawberries the same, big and small, and as a result I had a harder time fitting those bigger ones into my cups.

Now for the hard part…:)

Place your cupcake pan in freezer.¬† On a clean surface HEAVILY FLOURED, roll out 3/4 of dough until 1/8″ thick.¬† Return remaining 1/4 of dough to fridge.¬† Cut out circles 3″ in diameter for 9 total circles.¬† In my opinion, larger circles wouldn’t hurt!¬† Lightly grease pan with butter.¬† Gently press dough into cups, leaving small rim of dough at top.¬† Important: That rim is needed to attach top lattice crust. Make sure its big enough to be used effectively.¬† Use dough from fridge to patch any holes.
Overfill each cup with mixture (will shrink).¬† Don’t make my mistake and push filling down into it or it will not shrink so much.¬† Roll out remaining dough and slice into 1/4″ to 1/3″ strips.¬† Lay strips across each pie in crisscross pattern, pinching seams into rim as you go along.¬† Place cupcake pan on baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.¬† If crust starts browning too fast, cover with aluminum foil and continue to bake.¬† Let pies cool in pan for 30 minutes, then remove and cool on wire rack. They are easy to remove; I just used a cereal (soup?) spoon.

My only edit would be that these pies needed some sweetness.¬† Yes, they were filled with sweet strawberries, but with the brown sugar and regular sugar in it as well, I thought it would be sweeter.¬† I am pretty sure that the lack of sweetness was detected from the pie crust, because it has no sugar in it.¬† You might want to add sugar if you like really sweet desserts.¬† I drizzled honey over my pies, but you couldn’t really taste it.

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