Summer Reds

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I have been enjoying some pops of red in my house this summer.  Most of my home is decorated with cooler colors so seeing red around has been a cheerful addition. I put some red carnations on the kitchen counter. I like red carnations because I was born in “Carnation City.”   The scarlet carnation is the city flower (and state flower of Ohio) because of political debates between Levi Lamborn, the grower of the red carnations, and soon-to-be president William McKinley when they were first running for a Congressional seat. Although political opponents, they were actually friends and Lamborn gave McKinley a red carnation to wear in his lapel before his appearances and debates.  It became a signature for him as he moved successfully onward toward presidency.

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I used my dinosaur cookie tray for my kitchen table.  I made it from the kids’ leftover toy dinosaurs from many, many years ago and two plastic serving pieces (89 cents each) from Target. The placemats are felt and I got them from Kohl’s several years ago.DSCF3126

In my dining room I have a table runner also from Kohl’s from this year and a Dansk candle holder.  DSCF3128

I’m not sure I’m brave enough to burn the candles for fear of falling wax.

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My Sunday breakfast included one of the many vintage syrup dispensers I collect. To me, they are a fun addition to a breakfast or brunch table and somewhat hard to find at thrift or antique shops.DSCF3142

I’m heading to Rome to pick up Davis who is staying with Olivia for the weekend. They are an adventurous pair when they are together.  Always up for fun!

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Healthful Lunch Choices

BeansAs promised earlier I wanted to include a recipe using the salsa.  I will post it here and also direct you to a new blog/website I am starting.  www.300calories.com

This is a new website that features my plan-ahead freezer lunches.  I make portioned lunches to take to school every day and I thought it would be easier to document them in a website than to keep looking up the recipes every time I needed to refresh my lunch stash.  It is a brand new website so there are only a few recipes on there but I promise there are many more to come.

At this point, I don’t have a place to get subscribers on the new website.  I am always flying by the seat of my pants on these blogs and I can’t figure out how to add it.  Although I’m using the same blog format, I can’t seem to find the magical widget that would allow me to have a subscriber form.  I’ll figure it out eventually.  For now, you can go to the site directly or link through Frankly Southern.

The recipes on 300Calories can be made ahead and frozen individually or just cook them up for tonight’s dinner for everyone.  I just wanted to have the flexibility of both so I know I have a tasty meal ready to go for lunch each day.

 

Southwestern Bean Bowl

5 Servings: 297 calories

1 cup rice

2 cups water

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 cup minced onion

1 large garlic clove, minced

1   15-ounce can black beans, undrained

3 ounce package frozen corn

1 cup salsa

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Bring the 2 cups water to a boil and add rice.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes until tender. In a stockpot, heat the olive oil.  Add the onions and garlic; cook over medium heat until soft.  Add the beans, corn, and salsa.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Fold in the sour cream and cheddar cheese.  Lower the heat and cook until heated through. Season as desired with salt and pepper.

Place 1/2 cup cooked rice each in 5 freezer containers.  Divide the bean mixture among the 5 containers; approximately 3/4 cup each.  297 calories.  (You will have enough rice to make 6 containers.  Using 2/3 cup bean mixture for 6 containers is 265 calories each.) Label and freeze.

 

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Teriyaki Chicken

6 Servings: 296 Calories

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts

3 cups green beans, trimmed and steamed

approximately 1/4 cup sliced raw almonds

3/4 cup Royal Rice Blend (Texmati White, Brown, Wild, and Red Rice Blend)

1 1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon butter

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons cold water

1/2 cup sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground ginger

cracked black pepper

Bake the chicken at 350 degrees until tender and juices run clear, approximately 50 minutes. Cook the rice in the 1 1/2 cups water and butter according to package directions approximately 25 minutes. Using a steamer, cook the green beans until desired tenderness; set aside. For the sauce, in a small container add the water to the cornstarch. In a  saucepan over medium heat, mix together the soy sauce and sugar and then add the cornstarch and water mixture. Add the ginger, garlic, and cracked black pepper.  Stir and cook until bubbly and thick.  To assemble the meals.  Divide the beans and rice between six containers. Sprinkle one teaspoon of almonds on the green beans.  Add 2.5 ounces of cooked chicken to each.  Spoon the sauce over the chicken using approximately 1 1/3 tablespoons on each.  Cover, label, and freeze.

Salsa

EVERYBODY has an opinion on salsa.  Everybody!  Some people like it thick, some thin. Hot or mild.  Chunky or smooth.  Fresh or cooked.  Knowing this, I am not about to proclaim my salsa as the be all – end all, but I like it.

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Sometimes I preserve it but this time I have been using it in recipes (one of which I will share tomorrow) and just eating it with chips.

Salsa

4 cups tomato puree (start with 4 pounds of fresh tomatoes)

1 poblano pepper, cored and seeded

2 jalapeno peppers, cored and seeded

1 medium onion, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sugar

1  1/12 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Core and slice tomatoes. Place tomatoes in a sauce pan and cook  for 10 minutes over medium heat. Put tomatoes through a mill to remove seeds and skin, reserve pulp and return it to the pan.  In a food processor, finely chop onion, garlic, and peppers; add to tomato puree.  Season with sugar, salt, and pepper.  Cook 30 minutes to desired thickness.  Add cilantro and cook until leaves are wilted.  Cool.

 

Chop up the hot stuff. Don’t forget to wear plastic gloves when you handle peppers.

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Cook over medium heat with the tomatoes and seasonings.

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Enjoy!

Salsa

Movies and Friends

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With my not-so-subtle attempt at clever serving pieces, you can probably guess what movie we went to see.  I first went to the theater on Friday to see Jurassic World with the two friends whom I have known the longest, Terri and Nancy. We met in the third grade and have been the best of friends ever since.

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We dined at City Cafe.  They have great food, delicious desserts, and beautiful live music.  It is a perfect combo when you add friends into the mix.

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Then, on Saturday my mom wanted to see Jurassic World so I went with her.  THEN, on Sunday we decided to go back to see it again in 3D.  Needless to say, I liked the movie.

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In general, I guess I’ve always liked dinosaurs.  I still have my Sinclair Dinoland extruded wax dinosaurs from the 1960’s.  Remember these?

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I made some cookies that were supposed to be Lava-ish but mine are too flat so I’m calling them dinosaur eggs.  They tasted good as they were so I didn’t want to try to figure out how to make them gush like lava in the middle.  I’ll save that for another day because we are busy this summer!  Next up is Ant-Man!

 

 

Chocolate Filled Cookies

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening  (Crisco)

1 cup sugar + additional sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup cocoa powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

hot fudge sauce (commercially prepared sundae topping)

Cream together butter, shortening, and sugar.  Add eggs and mix well.  Add vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Slowly add dry ingredients to egg mixture until well blended. Shape dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate for an hour.  Using a melon-baller, scoop the fudge sauce onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet and freeze.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Take a piece of cookie dough and flatten it slightly.  Place a piece of fudge sauce in the middle of the cookie dough and press the dough around it.  Roll the dough in sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Allow to cool 1-2 minutes on the cookie sheet.  Remove to a wire rack and continue to cool.  Makes about 30 cookies.

Freeze the fudge sauce.

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Chill the cookie dough.

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Encase the fudge sauce ball into the dough and roll in sugar.

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Eat them up.  The fudge sauce stays soft so it seems like you are eating almost done cookies without having the be worried about uncooked eggs.  Very tasty especially when still warm.

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Lunch at the Studio

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We popped into the Pinewood Studios Commissary for lunch today. Sounds more Hollywood than it is, however it was fun.  The excitement in Atlanta over the last few years has been the addition of Pinewood Studios.  It is huge and sprawling with plans to get even bigger.

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The commissary is over to the right in the blue-roofed building.

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Now in case you get the idea that I’m somebody special, I must admit that the commissary is open to the public.  You have to get a name tag such as the one I’m sporting.  The cool part is that the visitor tag starts out completely white and then in about two hours, you start to see the words VOID emerge.  There’s no mistaking I don’t belong there.

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You are not allowed to take photos inside so I will have to just list the menu for today.  We could choose from pulled pork sliders, seared swordfish, Neptune salad, asparagus, marinated mushrooms, baked potatoes, salad bar, dessert bar of carrot cake, strawberry shortcake and mini tarts, and tea or water. It was tasty and I will be happy to take you, too, if you come to visit me.  We can go to the movies to watch Ant-Man (filmed at Pinewood Studios) and then get a bite to eat whilst we look about for ants and men or better yet, an Ant-Man.

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New Chairs

Look at my deck chairs. I’m thinking alien laser attack or solar flares pointing in my general direction.

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My chair cushions are melting.DSCF2891

It’s crazy and very expensive to replace these cushions every year.  This time I said enough is enough and I opted for wooden Adirondack style chairs.  My mom sent me one of her “Brad’s Deals” online to buy some new foldable Adirondack Chairs.  Score one for Brad.   They were a good price, free shipping, and best of all mom-approved.  Sounds perfect.   Well….always stop and read the fine print.  They arrived as deck chair KITS.  Basically I received 4 boxes of sticks!!!!!

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Right about this time Davis asked me what I wanted for my birthday.  Here was the quote from him. “If you don’t think of something, I’ll just go to Stein Mart and buy you a necklace.” He’s such a guy.    I knew immediately what I wanted.  Manual labor.

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Finally done and looking good.

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Nothing better on a hot mosquitoey night than some fresh Strawberry Lemonade while relaxing in my new chairs.  Time to celebrate the finished project.

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Strawberry Lemonade

8 large strawberries

3/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 cups water

1 cups lemon juice

Blend the strawberries with 1/2 cup water.  Strain through a mesh strainer to remove the seeds.  Place strawberry juice in a pitcher and add  sugar, lemon juice, and water – taste along the way so that you don’t make the lemonade too weak by adding too much water.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Serve over ice. (ALL of these amounts are estimates.  If the lemons are tart, add more sugar. If you like weaker lemonade, add more water, etc.)

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Fresh Herbs and a Hot/Cold Supper

I planted an herb pot on my deck with fresh basil, oregano, and dill. I bought these at the grocery store so they probably aren’t very hardy for deck life but I will give it a try.

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Tonight I made our favorite bean soup which uses the oregano…

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…but since it is still so stinkin’ hot in Atlanta – 90’s every day, I wanted to make a cold end to our supper.  I made some peach ice cream topped with caramel sauce and glazed almonds.

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We are about to be blasted with a storm tonight so I’m typing fast although I’m not sure why impending doom makes me type fast.  She’s feeling it, too.

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The soup is basically a pantry soup with the addition of fresh garlic and onion.

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You can also use fresh oregano.,or if you don’t have the bountiful deck garden like I do (ha ha) you can use dried.

Black Bean Soup

1 medium onion, chopped (mine was 6 ounces)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 teaspoon fresh)

1/2 teaspoon salt (I actually don’t add any because of the salt in the broth and beans)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 14.5-ounce cans chicken broth

1 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed

1 16-ounce can white beans, rinsed

Cook onions and garlic in oil.Add spices.  Add tomato paste, then broth.  Simmer 10-15 minutes.  Add beans and simmer at least 10 more minutes.

It’s not a very fancy soup but it is tasty and easy to make, and I pretty much always have the ingredients on hand.

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The peach ice cream was quick and easy to make, too, because I had the ice cream freezer bowls in the freezer ready to go.

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Peach Ice Cream

1 1/4 cups pureed peaches

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup half and half

1 cup whipping cream

Mix together the peaches and sugar.  Add the half and half and whipping cream.  Place in freezer and follow manufacturers directions for freezing.

I will probably never eat peach ice cream without these almonds ever again.  They were the perfect addition to the ice cream.

Glazed Almonds

1 + 3 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 cups sliced almonds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt (you can double the salt if you like the nuts sweet/salty)

Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Melt one tablespoon butter and spread over the foil.  In a skillet melt butter.  Add the sugar and stir.  Add the almonds and cook over medium heat 6-8 minutes or until sugar turns golden brown.  Remove from heat.  Carefully stir in the vanilla.  Pour nuts on the cookie sheet and separate into clusters.  Sprinkle with salt.  Allow to cool and break apart if necessary.

Melt the butter and add sugar.

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Add the almonds and keep stirring over medium heat.

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Soon they will be golden brown.

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Pour on a cookie sheet and top with salt.

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Here is the final bowl of ice cream drizzled with caramel sauce and topped with glazed almonds.  Storm?  What storm??  So yummy it makes you forget.DSCF3025

 

 

 

Velvet Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup

Yesterday on the Savory Tomato Tart post my friend Phyllis asked if I had a recipe for cream of tomato soup.  Why yes I do.  First, though, I want to take a quick trip down memory lane.  Phyllis and I met in high school.  We also went to church together.  I did a little scouting in my photo albums to find Phyllis circa 1977. She’s rocking the blue drape for her senior picture.

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I went back even further to 1976 to find a few church camp photos.  Here she is sitting with my first boyfriend Alec.  He and I were eighth grade sweethearts.

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Next we see Phyllis with our friend Jeff.  She’s getting a little camp love.  Laura, who is walking past, is just not having it!

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Finally, I decide to get in on the action but don’t have as much luck as Phyllis.  I’m basically being manhandled by an unknown teen who I don’t have the slightest idea who he is now.  Can anyone help with the ID? Seems like his name is Andy???? I’m sporting my favorite puka bead necklace.

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I’m just like David Cassidy and his puka beads. I guess we were kindred spirits.

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Phyllis and I had SO MUCH FUN at school and church hanging out.  If I looked a little longer today I probably could have dug up some of the notes she and I passed in Spanish. I don’t throw much away.

So let me get back back to the recipe because I could reminisce for a long time and then you would never get to eat soup.  I encourage you to adjust this recipe as needed to make it your own to reflect your personal taste. You can’t really go wrong.

Velvet Tomato Soup

2 pounds fresh tomatoes ( which makes 2 cups cooked tomatoes)

1/4 cup finely chopped onion (I used Vidalia)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

3 whole cloves

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup half and half (add more for a thinner soup)

1 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)

cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon white sugar (more or less to taste)

Cut tomatoes into chunks and place in a large pot.  Cook over low heat until the skins are soft and falling off, about 20 minutes.  Strain the tomatoes discarding the seeds and skin. Place the cooked tomato back into the stock pot and add the onion, garlic, celery, cloves,and bay leaf.  Simmer 10-15 more minutes or until onions and celery are softened. Remove the cloves and bay leaf and blend the tomato mixture in a blender. Place the tomato mixture back in the stock pot over low heat. In a small pan melt the butter over medium heat; add the flour to make a roux.  Take about 1/2 cup of the tomato mixture and add it to the roux.  Return the mixture back to the stock pot.  Add the half and half, salt and sugar.  Simmer for 5 minutes to heat the half and half.  Makes about 3 cups of soup.

Here are the steps.  I used two types of tomatoes – Roma and a Big Boy variety.

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Cut the tomatoes and place in a large stock pot. I cored the bigger one but I left the cores in the smaller ones.

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Simmer until soft and the skins are slipping off.

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Now for the next step, I actually have a tomato press.  I know, I know.  A hand-cranked tomato press is not a common kitchen gadget but Davis and Olivia got it for me from the Williams Sonoma outlet a while back.  They actually are still selling them at Williams Sonoma but not at the discounted price at the outlet.The skins and seeds come out the front and the juice and pulp comes out the side.  I usually run the skins and seeds through three times to get as much juice out as possible. You can strain the tomatoes with a mesh strainer or a food mill.

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Next, cook the tomatoes with the onions, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and cloves.

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When the  vegetables are tender, pour the soon-to-be soup into a blender and blend till smooth.

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In another pan, melt the butter and add the flour. Add some of the tomato soup to the roux and then put it all back in the stock pot.  Add the half and half, salt, and sugar.  Heat through and enjoy. Don’t forget your grilled cheese sandwiches. Is it possible to eat tomato soup without them? Nope.

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Any other recipe requests?  I enjoyed my trip down memory lane and I enjoyed making this soup today.  Thanks, Phyllis!

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Savory Tomato Tart

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This tomato tart was indeed the most delicious meal of the week.  The tomatoes around here are wonderful this year.  I guess all the rain we’ve been having has made them big and juicy.

There is, however, another part of the story behind this innocent looking tart.  My photos will soon reveal its darker side.  Let me continue… I started by making the crust.  It is just a basic pie crust in a tart pan.  I used a ten-inch pan with the removable bottom.  The kind that pushes up through the fluted outer rim.

Pie Crust for 10″ Tart Pan

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used White Lily)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup solid shortening (Crisco)

3 tablespoons ice cold water

Stir the salt into the flour. Use a pastry blade to cut the shortening into the flour and salt.  The mixture should be the size of peas.  Add the water a tablespoon at a time using a fork to blend.  The dough should form a loose ball.  Roll out on a floured surface.

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Roll the dough into a 12 inch round for the 10 inch tart pan.  Artistically arrange tomatoes on board for photo shoot.   Ha!

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Take the artistically arranged tomatoes off of the board because you can’t roll the dough with them on.

Now, gently press the dough into the tart pan.

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Brush the dough with milk and bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Take the crust out of the oven to cool and then WHAMMO!!

I dropped the crust as I was taking it out.  But scroll on.  It gets worse.

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How it happened was that I accidentally pushed the bottom of the pan up as I was removing it from the oven and then the ring that was left after I was holding the tart aloft plopped onto my arm for a 450 degree bracelet. At that point I dropped it all trying to get the outer ring off of my arm.  I now have a bright red welt on my wrist and a lot of cleaning to do.

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I wasn’t to be deterred so I started again, of course having to borrow Crisco from my mom next door because I ran out on that last crust.  All I was thinking was, “This tart better taste good!”   Fortunately, I had no more mishaps after that so you can read on without fear of a gory finale.

I cooked the onions and garlic in a tiny bit of olive oil until they were softened.

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I sliced one very large tomato.

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Here is the rest of the recipe so the photos will make sense.

Savory Tomato Tart

1 pie crust (see above)

milk

one large tomato or enough slices to fill the bottom of a 10-inch tart pan

1/2 cup onions, chopped

1 small garlic clove

olive oil

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons half and half

1 large egg

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, finely grated

3/4 teaspoon dried basil

salt and pepper to taste

Place pie crust in a tart pan and brush with milk. (You could also use a pie pan if you don’t have a tart pan.)  Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.  In a small skillet, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, half and half, and egg with a wire whisk.  Add the basil and cheese. Stir in the onions and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Place half of the mayonnaise mixture in the tart pan.  Place the tomatoes in the pan so that they completely cover the bottom.  Place the rest of the mayonnaise mixture on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Now, to continue with the photos, here is the mayonnaise mixture.

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Place half in the pan and add the tomatoes. Then place the rest of the mayonnaise mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake.

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All done!

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If you aren’t klutzy, this tart goes together really quickly.  I have made it several times before without the scarring and trauma. It is really nice for a luncheon or Sunday brunch.  And, it’s nice for a weeknight meal,too, with or without the “ring of fire” wristband.

More Chicken Salad

Today’s chicken salad selection is Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad.  Why so much chicken salad these days?  I have been working around the house and yard in the mornings and when lunch comes I want something fast and easy.  Previously, I baked chicken, chopped it, and froze it so that has been the go-to lunch.  Today, I did the math for you and made two cups instead of one.  This salad may not be world-famous but it is very good.  It might be a contender for future fame and glory. I ate it on top of baby kale and other super greens. They are not my favorite greens but I guess my immune system will thank me.

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Almost Famous Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

6 ounces cooked chicken breast

1 medium stalk celery

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

1/4 teaspoon fines herbes

1/4 teaspoon dill weed

2 tablespoons mayonnaise (or more if you like it creamier)

2 tablespoons plain yogurt (or sour cream)

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

salt and pepper to taste

Use a food processor to finely chop the celery.  Add the pecans and chicken and pulse to desired texture.  Remove chicken, celery, and pecans to a bowl and stir in the mayo, sour cream, fines herbs and dill weed.  Add the cranberries.  Season as desired with salt and pepper.

p.s. My fines herbes came from The Fresh Market spice section.  Fines herbes are a mixture of parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil.