Recipes

Tomatoes Three Ways

Last week I shared my simple salsa recipe as a way to use up some of that end of summer tomato glut.  Well, we’re still deep in the red around here, as I went up to the CSA this weekend and picked another 50+ pounds.  Here are the ways we are putting away the toms for use over the winter.

We mainly picked Roma tomatoes.  But Rick wanted a few sweet slicers to save.  Since slicing tomatoes don’t hold up as well to other preservation methods, and since it’s the easiest method to do, I put up those first…

Freezing
This is the simplest thing.  If you have the space, you might even be tempted to use this as your only tomato preservation method (we did for the last two years).  First, wash and dry the tomatoes.  Next, label your gallon size freezer bags.  Finally, place as many tomatoes in the bag as it will hold, zip it up, and put it in the freezer.  Done.

The tomatoes should not stick together, so you can take them out one or two or three at a time and set them in a bowl on your counter to defrost.  As they warm up, the skins will just slip off.  They will make great sauce or soup, and be as sweet as the summer time.  They will be soft, so I usually dice them when they are still half-frozen and toss them straight into my pan to finish defrosting as they cook.  Yum.

Canning
This is the main method we are using this year.  Most of those Romas are getting diced and put into jars.  There are lots and lots of posts out there talking about canned tomatoes and how the process works, so I’m not going to retype that here.  Instead, here is a link to a great tutorial.  The only thing I do differently is I chop those suckers up so I don’t have to do it on the cooking end when I open the cans.  -Note that I’m experimenting right now with whether or not it’s worth it to dice them, or if it just as good crushing the tomatoes.  I’ll let you know. –   And please, please ignore anyone who tells you to seed your tomatoes.  WHY?  Seriously.  If you don’t like tomato seeds, you probably don’t like tomatoes, so why are you even bothering.  These are the same people who always peel their potatoes.  To me, this is a total waste of time and energy.  But whatever.  Maybe I’m just lazy.  ;)

No matter the recipe you use, make sure to adjust processing time for altitude if you live here in Denver.  Last week I put up just over ten quarts of canned tomatoes (some diced and some crushed).  Looking to get another 15-20 quarts out of these.

Drying
Mmmmm… sun-dried tomatoes.  But without the sun.  I totally use the dehydrator.  It’s faster and I have two little boys in the yard, not to mention the chickens.  All of them, tomato hounds and dirt-flingers to boot.  Dehydrator is much safer – I might actually get dirt-free, uneaten tomatoes this way.

I picked through my boxes of Romas to find the small and the weird.  These tomatoes tend to be labor intensive to peel, which is awful for canning, but makes them perfect candidates for drying.  You don’t peel your dried tomatoes, and you can just cut out the really weird spots.

So wash them, slice them, arrange them, season them and you are good to go.

Some of the bigger weirdos had to be sliced long-ways into thirds to fit in my dehydrator trays.  I sprinkle mine with salt and thyme.  I don’t seed these tomatoes either.  That might make the drying time faster, or possibly make the trays easier to clean afterwards, but I don’t care.  I just want to get the tomatoes off the counter and into the pantry as quickly as possible.

My dehydrator will take 12 hours on 135° to dry them all out.  For those that will tell me to use my oven, sorry, that’s a no go.  I run my dehydrator outside so I don’t have to heat up my kitchen.  We have no a/c around here and I can actually fit more into the dehydrator anyway.  If you don’t have a dehydrator though, that is a viable option.

There you have it.  What are your favorite ways to save summer’s favorite fruit for the dark days of winter?

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Categories: Canning and Food Preservation, Food, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

Lazy Tasty Salsa

Yum yum!  We’ve been getting wonderful tomatoes and jalapenos from the CSA lately.  Here’s an easy, tasty salsa using all local ingredients (unless you need a little lime juice thrown in).

1 large white onion (or two smaller ones)
2-3 jalapenos
6-8 cloves garlic
4 ripe red tomatoes

Remove the peels from the onions and garlic, and the tops from the jalapenos.  Cut onion into fourths and place into a food processor with the garlic and jalapenos.  Pulse a few times to get the onion pieces roughly chopped.  Quarter your tomatoes and add to the food processor.  Pulse until tomatoes are chopped and thoroughly combined.  Be careful not to over-process.  Stir in salt to taste (you can add the juice of one lime too at his point if you like).  Generally, this is good with cilantro in it as well, if you like that sort of thing.  Just add it, leaves not stems, with the tomatoes.

I made two batches like this and froze in 2-cup packages.  That way we can enjoy the taste of a summer fiesta in February, when mealy tomatoes rule the grocery store shelves.  Do you have a simple salsa recipe you love?

Categories: CSA, Food, Recipes | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Jam Fever!

Last weekend, we went to Palisade for our annual trip to Bracken Orchard to pick peaches.  We drive 240 miles over the mountains, each way, so we want to make sure we make the trip worth it.  This year, we came home with 368 pounds of peaches (slightly less, since about half a box was Fuji apples).

   

We had 15 pounds for my sister and 40 pounds for some friends, but the rest we’ve been working on getting put up for the year.  Most of them are sliced and frozen in quart-size bags, and many get made into various jams for our use during the year and for gifts.  We canned some a few years ago, but we feel like the frozen ones are more versatile and last us longer.  Plus they are easier to put up and take up less space.

True to form, I decided to defrost 40 pounds of the plums that were given to us last year at peach time.  We didn’t have time then to process them properly, so of course I thought we’d have time this year!  What is wrong with me?!? I spent the whole week making plum jam while Rick sliced and froze the peaches.  I didn’t get all the plums done before some started to smell “off,” but I got most of them taken care of.  Smarter people would have just defrosted a little at a time.  Then I moved onto the peach jams.

This has been the most fun I’ve ever had jamming though.  My friend Kristen has been a godsend, coming over twice to make jams.  We got a little crazy the second time, trying new recipes.  I spent a good portion of my grocery budget last week on organic Madagascar vanilla beans, green cardamom pods and various liquors for our jam.  Some combos we tried:  Peach with Honey, Vanilla Bean and Brandy (wow – the smell!), Plum Lavender (AMAZING!!), Peach-Plum Ginger, Plum Noir (ooh lala!), and a couple of original creations, Kristen’s Honey Peach Cobbler jam, and my Jalapeno-Honey Plum.  We’ve had a ball.

I’ve even ordered special jars.  I hope they arrive by this weekend (I plan to make Peach, Blueberry and Grand Marnier jam and my favorite traditional peach preserves), but if they don’t make it, I’ll use them next year. I found most of these recipes on the Punk Domestics site, by the way.  If you put up – you should definitely check it out!

So what are your favorite ways to use peaches?  Plums?  Any awesome jam recipes?

Categories: Canning and Food Preservation, Community, Recipes, Recommended Reading | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

Jalapeño-Honey Plum Jam

What do you do when you’ve got 40 pounds of last year’s plums left in the freezer and you need to make room for this year’s peaches?  You put your grandma’s apron on over your mei tai and start making jam!

Last year, my brother-in law picked us nearly 70 pounds of plums from his parents’ place.  But he brought them just when we were elbows deep in peach and grape processing.  So I stuck them all in the freezer with the intention of making them into jam later, when it wasn’t so hot and we weren’t so swamped with other fruit.

Well, here it is, September again, and we are once again swamped with fruit.  And I’ve still not touched those plums.  So I started defrosting them, and went at it with the jam making.  But as there are still 40 pounds, I wanted to get creative.  I went searching for a little jam inspiration and I found it on Canarella.  Sweet and spicy – my favorite combination!

Since my plums were previously frozen, they turn all mushy when defrosted.  No good for straight up canning, but perfect for jam.  Here’s what I came up with!

Jalapeño-Honey Plum Jam

2 pounds plums, pitted and chopped
1½ cups honey
1½ tsp jalapeño powder*
2 T lemon juice

In a large sauce pan, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil.  Cook until jam gets to the gelling point (use the saucer method or one of these methods).

Ladle hot jam into sterilized jars, wipe rims of jars, add lids and bands and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes (10 minutes in Denver or similar altitude).

Makes 4 half pints.

*I make homemade jalapeño powder by slicing and dehydrating jalapeños, then grinding in a food processor.  This powder is delish on buttered popcorn!

Categories: Canning and Food Preservation, Food, Recipes | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Pan Roasted Cauliflower with Cannellini Beans and Kale

Last week we made a tasty side dish with our garden and CSA goodies.  Rick thought it was good enough for me to share.

Pan Roasted Cauliflower with Cannellini Beans and Kale

2 TBS butter
1 TBS olive oil
1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite size florets
coarse salt and red pepper flakes
1/4 water
1 bunch of kale leaves from the garden, tough stems trimmed, washed, dried, and cut or torn into pieces
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
parmesan cheese

In a 12 inch skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add cauliflower to pan and season with red pepper flakes and salt to taste.  Let the cauliflower brown well before turning and continuing to “toast” on all sides.  When the cauliflower is getting nicely browned, add water to the pan and scrape up any browned bits.  Add kale, cover the pan with a lid and let cauliflower steam until most of the water is absorbed or evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Remove cover and stir in garlic and beans.  Stir until beans are heated through and the rest garlic is fragrant.  Serve topped with grated parmesan cheese.

I wish I had gotten a picture, but it was so good that we ate it before I could grab the camera.  Let me know if you give it a try and you like it.

Categories: CSA, Food, Recipes | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Lazy Peach Cobbler

MMMmmmm… Monday!  I thought I’d share one of my favorite, easy dessert recipes this morning. Peach Cobbler!

You can make this recipe in a cake or brownie pan, but I like it in my cast iron skillet.  Preheat your oven to 325°.  Add 6 tablespoons of butter to your pan and stick it in the oven to melt.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.  You can use any kind of flour.  In these pictures I used white, but have used whole wheat and even corn flour before.  Basically, whatever is on hand.  Keeps it easy.

To this add your liquid – I use 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup half and half or cream.  But any combo will do, cream making it a bit richer.  I’ve used buttermilk before and it’s delish.

Once that is all mixed up (about the consistency of pancake batter), remove your pan of melted butter from the oven and dump it in.  Don’t stir it in the pan.  You can see that the butter sort-of goes to the edge of the pan, and that’s ok, don’t mix it up – this is the lazy way, remember.

To this add about three cups sliced fresh or defrosted, unsweetened peaches.  We get lots of peaches in the late summer, and a great many go into the freezer for us to use throughout the year.  We defrost them and add them, with their juice.  Just dump them on top.  Again, don’t stir, but if there’s a big pile, I’ll move some over to an empty space.

  

If you want, you can sprinkle a bit of granulated sugar on top at this point, but I usually don’t since we eat this so often, we’d be fat, fat, fat if I did!  Put the pan in the oven and leave it there for an hour.

When your done, it’ll be delicious, peach cobbler – the easiest you’ve ever made!

Categories: Recipes | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Spinach-Black Bean Enchiladas

Last week, after all the rain we’ve had, we collected an abundance of spinach.  It’s been so  yummy.  I decided to spinach up a few of our regular recipes.  I came up with this gem, and had to share with you!

Spinach-Black Bean Enchiladas

2 cups cottage cheese
A big, giant bowl full of spinach
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
18 corn tortillas, cut in half
1 recipe Garlicky Enchilada Sauce (recipe below)
1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
coarse salt, ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.  In a food processor, combine cottage cheese and spinach and process until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl with garlic and black beans.  Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper.

In a 2 quart baking dish layer 6 tortilla halves.  Spread with half the spinach-black bean mixture.  Add 1/2 cup enchilada sauce.  Layer 6 more tortilla halves and the remaining spinach-black bean mixture.  Top with remaining tortilla halves and cover with 1 cup of enchilada sauce.  Save remaining sauce for another use.  Sprinkle Monterey jack cheese over the top.

Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbling.

Homemade enchilada sauce is easy to make and much more flavorful than prepackaged.  Usually I use onions as a base, but one day when we were unexpectedly out, I used garlic instead.

Garlicky Enchilada Sauce
In a medium sauce pan, heat 3 Tablespoons olive oil over medium-high.  Saute 6 minced cloves of garlic and 4 teaspoons of ground New Mexico chili powder until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in 2 Tablespoons white vinegar and 2 cups tomato sauce (I use tomatoes from the freezer, put through the food processor, but a 15 oz can is fine).  Stir in 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5-7 minutes until slightly thickened.  Salt to taste (perhaps 1/2 teaspoon?).

Categories: Food, Recipes | Tags: | 3 Comments

Green and Good!

Since at this time of year, everyone seems to have an abundance of greens coming from the garden, I thought I’d share my favorite green smoothie recipe.  I shared it a couple weeks ago on my birth blog, but that you might appreciate it too.

This recipe was given to me by my midwife, Jen Anderson-Tarver, but I’ve played with it a bit to suit my personal tastes and moods.

To a blender add:

1/2 pound kale, tough stems removed
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup sliced frozen peaches, or approx. 1 frozen peach, unsweetened
And 1 of the following of your choice:  either 1 whole carrot, 1/2 a banana, OR 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Blend until smooth, pour into glasses and enjoy!

The original recipe calls for the half a banana, but I don’t really care for bananas in smoothies.  They are a bit too sweet for me.  I like to substitute the carrot, which is a little sweet, but not too much, and since I don’t otherwise like carrots much, it’s a good way for me to sneak them into my diet.  The blueberries are a good choice if you don’t want your smoothie to actually be green… great for those with an aversion to green foods.  We’ve also substituted spinach for kale, though I prefer the kale if we have it.

This is the smoothie H and E ask for over and over.  Rick usually makes it with a carrot for me, and they like it just fine.  They’ve even bragged to the neighborhood kids about how good it is.  Of course, E has been known to run from me stuffing handfuls of spinach into his mouth before I can make him come back inside.  So fun having kids that like to eat their greens.  How lucky are we!

Categories: Recipes | Tags: | 4 Comments

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