Recipes to Make from Garden Vegetables and Herbs

This summer, with its erratic weather and hot conditions, has yielded some great crops and some not so great ones. One in particular that flourished in my household is tomatoes. We have more than we know what to do with. We’ve also had a good stock of peppers, cucumbers, and hot peppers.

In honor of the close of summer (and perhaps even a little late), I wanted to shed some light on some things you can do to use up those crops and eat healthy along the way.

Tomatoes

Let’s start with the most problematic first, at least for my kitchen. Tomatoes are one of my favorite foods, and we have such an abundance of them that even I can’t eat them fast enough. That’s saying a lot, since I routinely eat them for snacks.

Here’s some easy things you can do with tomatoes:

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Stuffed Pattypan Squash

One Saturday, I FINALLY was able to wake up early enough to get down to the farmer’s market (before it closes at the early hour of one p.m.). Thrilled about this rare occurrence, I wandered between the various booths, trying to find something fun and unusual to me to make. On a budget, I ended up picking up pattypan squash and okra. After I got home from the market, I realized that I didn’t have the faintest idea what to make with these particular vegetables.

I breaded the okra, coating with egg and dipping in Italian-style breadcrumbs, and cooked it in the oven. I was happy to find that it was nice and flavorful, as I don’t trust my skills of throwing something together without a recipe.

A couple of days later, I turned to the pattypan squash, deciding that my best option was to cruise the web for something different to make out of the ingredient. The resulting recipe was stuffed pattypan squash. 

Photo courtesy of allrecipes.com

Stuffed pattypan squash may look complicated, but was actually extremely easy to prepare. Here’s the recipe…  Continue reading

Playing with Ramen and Fun Recipes

Ah, ramen. The ultimate cheap, quick meal. Many college students have thrived off of it. Taking only three minutes to cook, this meal is the ultimate lazy lunch and dinner. Despite this, ramen can get to be a very dull dinner. For many people, cooking ramen turns into an art, challenging themselves to take it further and experiment with recipes.

While at Whole Foods the other day slinging granola, I met a chef who was eager to talk about food. After telling him I didn’t know how to begin experimenting with different spices to create my own recipes, he told me the best way to start was experiment with ramen. Its basic flavor makes it the ultimate palate to test out various spices and herbs, and get accustomed to different tastes, for the novice chef to work their way up to creating their own recipes. Using this tactic, I find that I’m already much more accustomed to using spices and herbs on a whim, which I love!

After that fun experiment, I began scouring the Internet and other sources to look for tasty ramen recipes. I was surprised at what I found: almost every type of noodle recipe imaginable! Here’s three recipes from completely different ends of the spectrum that I’m the most excited about:

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Meatless Fridays: Sweet Potato and Sage Pizza

With this post I’d like to introduce a new feature to Chow City: meatless Fridays. I eat a lot of meat, almost every day, so I am trying to cut back, and will be looking for new, tasty meatless recipes to post every Friday. Lately, I’ve been expanding my horizons with spices and herbs and other flavor-adding ingredients, and while surfing the internet the other day, I found the perfect recipe to put my new-found skills to use: sweet potato and sage pizza. This recipe is delicious and flavorful, and wonderfully vegetarian. As an added bonus, sweet potatoes are pretty healthy, while at the same time not losing their subtle flavor. All in all, I found this pizza to be an explosion of subtle flavors, and extremely enjoyable.

Sweet Potato and Sage Pizza

Ingredients – to make a personal pizza:

  • 1/2-3/4 cup slices sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced onion
  • 1 tbsp sage leaves
  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese, by preference
  • Salt and pepper (I used garlic salt)
  • Pizza dough
  • Italian herbs and spices (I used parsley, thyme and oregano)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425. Mix together sweet potatoes, onion, sage, salt, pepper, and a little olive oil in a baking pan. Wrap unpeeled garlic cloves in aluminum foil and put them in the pan as well. Cook at 425 until tender, which should take 10-15 minutes.

Put cooking oil, crisco, or butter on the pan and put in the crust. Use your judgement on how big you want the pizza. Pre-bake crust for eight minutes.

Take the crust out and spread over it a mixture of olive oil, parsley, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper. Put the potato and onion mix on top of the crust, and sprinkle cheese as desired over the top. Put back in the oven, cooking until it reaches desired crispness and the cheese melts, which could be anywhere from 10-18 minutes. Remove from oven and enjoy!

-Lisa

 

Morning Goodness: Breakfast Treats Any Day

I’ve never been a big breakfast eater. I just don’t have the time for it, and I was never too fond of the cuisine. However, as I grew older and my taste buds expanded a bit, I started to find that some breakfast dishes, both classic and innovative, were tasty and nutritious. I’ve recently been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and humans SHOULD eat their biggest meal in the morning and work backwards. Nobody does, but here are a few dishes that might make that idea a little more appealing:

Crepes

Crepes are a great, versatile dish that can be made for any meal. For breakfast, I prefer to stuff them with fruit, because it’s more nutritious and gives the morning the kick it needs for me. However, crepes can literally be stuffed with hundreds of things, from apple cinnamon to chocolate, depending on what the chef/eater prefers. To make basic crepes:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray

Trying Thai: Experimenting with New Dishes

If I didn’t have enough of a yen for traveling, it only increased when I found out that my friend Anna is going to Thailand for a year to teach English. Luckily, she decided to include me in the before-trip festivities, as we decided to test-run some foods from a Thai cookbook that she bought. To get the ingredients, we went shopping at an asian grocery store off Argyle. There were many ingredients that we had never heard of before, such as Taramind water and snake beans, but luckily for us, there was a great employee that helped us find everything in no time flat. So we headed back to her apartment and commenced making out three-course dinner:


First Course: Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad

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Easy Meals: Mexican Edition

Being an avid eater on a budget does have its benefits: you learn how to cook frugally, and still create a delicious meal. When cooking Mexican food, I tend to go by-the-packet, simply for lack of sauces and spices. With food like fajitas, taco salad, quesadillas, and other Mexican dishes, it is easy to put your own interpretation into it and still come up with a tasty dish. Here are some of my favorites that I’ve made:

Easy Chicken Fajita Recipe

Prep time: 45 minutes           Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Flour Tortillas
  • Chicken Breast
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice (substituted for lime)
  • Teriyaki Marinade Sauce
  • Bell Peppers
  • White Onion
  • Other spices as desired (I use cayenne, paprika, and salt and pepper)

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The Best Dinner I Ever Made…

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Since I’ve been pretending to be a chef lately, I’ve been putting a lot of thought and care into the dishes I cook when I choose to do so. So, one frosty winter night, I invited my parents down to demonstrate my newfound cooking skills for them. The question next was…what to make? I began scouring recipe sites left and right for the perfect dish. I stopped dead when I came to one from the food network, Maple Glazed Chicken. (Click here for the original Food Network link.)

This dish seemed so interesting to me, because I had never thought of using maple syrup in my dishes before, and I was a little unsure of how it would taste. Luckily, it tasted amazing, and I was thrilled when my parents told me so as well! (Always good to hear it from mom and dad.) If you’re as curious as I was, here’s the recipe (courtesy of the food network): Continue reading

Sweet Potato Fries

As a kid, I never liked sweet potatoes. I would whine and cry whenever my mom made them, and have to choke them down.

Ever since I got a Pinterest account, I’ve found dozens of new recipes to try and become much more exploratory in the food department. One day, I ran into a sweet potato fries recipe.

“Why not,” I thought. It was easy and fairly quick to make, so I decided to try it. From the first bite, heaven. I was addicted and knew there was no going back. Now, they’ve practically become a staple in my diet, which makes my body happy because they are one of the top healthy foods.

They take 30-40 minutes to cook, depending on the desired crispness and individual ovens. I use Chipotle Ranch Dressing to dip them in, but feel free to explore which sauces fit your personal taste palate.

Sweet Potato Fries: (serves 4-6)

1 – 1 1/2 lb sweet potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut into slices of desired thickness. Put the slices in plastic bag and mix with olive oil, salt, paprika and cinnamon. Shake to mix all ingredients together. Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning potatoes over every ten minutes. Serve warm.

Recipe courtesy of sarahscucinabella.com.