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Monday, August 04, 2014

Creamy basil & tomato salsa

Hi guys,

Remember me?  I used to record all of my most favorite recipes here, both as a way of saving them, and of sharing my love of FOOD!

Well, I still love food, but my blogging habit was effectively squashed for quite some time.  I am (still) a full time college student, have one kid going into his senior year of high school, and 2 more at home that I homeschool.  When I began this blog 9(!!!) years ago, I didn't even have one of those kids yet!  It is amazing to me how much time (and food) has passed through these pages, and I am hoping to try and post here more often.

In the intervening years since I've posted last, we moved to East Tennessee.  The NSSO (not so significant other) decided not to dig in a garden this year, so I have had to supplement my love of fresh tomatoes and basil with offerings from the markets.  Fortunately, most markets carry local produce in the summer, so those farm-fresh tomatoes are still available to me.  I have been nurturing a single basil plant on my window sill for months now, and somehow, it has survived!  Today, however, was the first real time that I raided it for it's tender and fragrant offerings, and raid it I did!

I initially found the idea for this salsa from here.  However, I then added to it to make it my own, and it really was delicious served on top of some grilled turkey burgers!  Such a fresh taste. Perfect for this hot, summer day.

Creamy Basil & Tomato salsa

2 cups chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar (infused with garlic)
salt, pepper to taste

You simply combine all the ingredients!  The mayonnaise can be increased, depending on your taste for it.  The same for the vinegar.  I tried it both ways and liked it with just a splash of vinegar.

I would love to hear how you liked this recipe!  Please leave me a comment to let me know :)



Monday, October 29, 2012

Souper Easy Potato Soup (see what I did there?) (no dairy)

Hurricane Sandy was barrelling up the coast and I was glued to the weather channel for hours upon hours.  Someone on my facebook feed mentioned they'd made soup, and I suddenly thought "omg, we need soup too!".  We were under threat of losing electricity and since we heat and cook with electric, that means huge impact for us.  I figured if I made soup, I'd forget about the scary weather!  Ha.

Here's what I did.  You can adjust according to your own tastes, of course.

  • 8(ish) cups chicken broth - I used 1 pod of Knorr's new chicken bouillon that I've mentioned before to 3-1/2 cups of water - then another 4 cups of water mixed with 2 packages of goya brand vegetable seasoning/broth. 
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 5-7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 5-6 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 good sized stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves

Optional:  bacon (I used real bacon pieces that you use on salads), cheddar cheese, green onion

  1. Lightly brown garlic in oil.  
  2. Add onion and celery and saute until soft.
  3. Add broth and potatoes.
  4. Simmer until potatoes are tender.
  5. Strain 3/4 of the potatoes out and mash.  You could do them all if you wanted, but I like chunky.
  6. Re-add mashed potatoes to soup.
  7. Add a couple of bay leaves.  I waited until this point so that the bay seasoning would not overtake the whole soup.
  8. Stir well - this should thicken your soup.  
If it's not thick enough, you could always add a couple of tablespoons of flour to some cold water (cold is important) - mix it until it's dissolved and then add to the soup, until it's to your liking.

I added bacon and cheddar to my own bowl, and it's absolutely delicious!

Potato soup garnished with cheddar cheese and bacon bits.

Friday, October 12, 2012

How to roast a pumpkin

Whenever I need to use pumpkin for a recipe, I always roast my pumpkins.  It's so much fresher tasting than using a canned pumpkin, and of course, there are no preservatives.

Roasting a pumpkin is simple.  This is for a pumpkin that is roughly 1-2 pounds (typically called a pie pumpkin).  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Spray the foil with cooking spray or, as I did this time, drizzle a small amount of (almond) oil.

Split the pumpkin in half. Scoop the seeds and other gunk out and set aside (roasted pumpkin seeds are awesome!).  Place the pumpkin halves open side down on the baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees (f) for 1 hour or until you can pierce the pumpkin easily with a fork.

Allow the pumpkin to cool for a few minutes before attempting to scoop out the "meat".  Once it's out, you're ready to add it to your soup or make that yummy pumpkin bread!  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

(Not) "Beef" and Potato Pie

I initially found this recipe in the June 2012 issue of All You magazine (p. 75), which is my absolute favorite magazine.  When I finally decided to make it, though, I knew I'd have to make some changes, as we do not use any kind of ground beef.  So here is my version of "Beef" and Potato Pie, and it was hands down, the HIT of the week in our house.

The original recipe said it made 4 servings.  I doubled the amount of ground turkey because I have to feed 5, but 3 of those 5 are adults!

Le finished product


  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 lbs. ground turkey, 97/3  (this is approximately 2-1/2 times the amt called for in the original recipe, but I have to feed 5)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped (I omitted this the first time)
  • 2 medium red bliss potatoes, scrubbed well, sliced thin (I used my mandoline)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbs. wheat flour  (I probably used 3 Tbs. because I used twice the amt of meat called for in the recipe)
  • 1-1/4 c low-sodium beef broth. I used Knorr's new Homestyle Stock (beef), and used the whole tub of the broth, because I needed it to really flavor the turkey.
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (I probably used 2 tsp., also because of the doubled meat)
  • 2 tsp. unsalted butter, melted
Ok, I know it seems like a LOT of stuff, but it goes together really quickly.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Melt 1 tsp. butter in your frying pan.  Once that's melted, add the oil - it helps the butter to not burn.   Once that's heated, lightly saute the garlic. After about a minute or two, add the rest of your chopped vegetables.  See, that didn't take long, did it?
  3. Saute the vegetables for about 2 minutes or so. You don't want them to get too soft, though.
  4. Add the ground turkey, and mix everything up in the pan.  At this point, I also added the broth, to really cook the flavor into the meat.  This cooks for as long as it takes to cook the meat thoroughly.  It probably took about 10 minutes (some of my turkey came out of the microwave slightly frozen still, so it probably took me 15 minutes).  
  5. While the meat/vegetable mixture is cooking, I scrubbed and sliced my potatoes.  The original recipe calls for you to boil the slices in a pan with water.  I microwaved mine for about 3-4 minutes in about 1/2 inch of water in a casserole dish.  Same thing, really - and fewer pans to wash.  Ultimately, though, it's whatever you feel like doing. Just do NOT let the potatoes turn to mush.  You want them slightly cooked, but still firm.
  6. Once the meat mixture is thoroughly cooked through, sprinkle the flour over it and blend it in well.  This will thicken the juices and make a sort of gravy.  Now things are really picking up!
  7. Now you will layer the slices of potatoes across/around the top of the meat mixture. Because my frying pan is all metal, I can put the whole thing in the oven, so that's what I did.  However, if you cannot do this, then you would transfer the meat/veggie mixture into a oven-safe dish before doing the potatoes on top.
  8. Once the potatoes are arranged on top (in a pretty pattern, no doubt!), brush them with 1 tsp. of melted butter.  This helps them brown in the oven.  You can also sprinkle with salt (I used my Lawry's garlic salt).
  9. Transfer your pan/dish to the oven that you've had preheating (375ish.)  The original recipe calls for you to bake it for 30 minutes or until the middle is hot.  I cooked it while I was preparing the next recipe (apple cake), so it may have cooked longer than 30 minutes.  As long as you don't burn it, you're fine :D  You can also turn on the broiler at the end to brown up the potatoes, but I didn't even have to do that.  The butter took care of it for me.
I served this with some steamed vegetables and as I said, it was an absolute HIT!  There was NO leftovers (which kinda sucks), and everyone left the table with happy, full bellies.

  • Next time, I'm thinking about maybe putting this in a pie crust.  Not sure, though, but it SEEMS like it would be yummy.
  • Keep in mind that if you DO use ground beef, you will have to drain off the oil when you're done cooking it, before adding the broth.  With the 97/3 turkey, there is no fat to drain off.  Score!
  • I will probably up the amount of celery and add the carrots next time, just to make this go farther.
  • My son wants me to use more potatoes next time. :)