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Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes from the garden

Tomatoes are a fantastically versatile vegetable, which is good considering the amount of ripe ones I have in the garden right now.  Ranging from marble-sized to softball-sized or larger they can be eaten raw or cooked in a number of ways.  There’s nothing like popping into your mouth a fresh from the garden cherry tomato, or a thick slice of a garden fresh heirloom tomato.  They can be used fresh as is, stuffed, or added to salads or sandwiches.  Cooking them just expands their usefulness.  Baked, broiled, grilled, fried, sautéed, or roasted – there are many methods to explore with this wonderful summertime fruit.

And when the crop is abundant it’s time to think of how to preserve it.  One of my favorite ways to preserve tomatoes for use in the winter is to take my excess cherry and grape tomatoes, roast them with some garlic and basil, and freeze it for later.  The result is delicious.

In my last batch, most of the tomatoes I used were cherry or grape, but I did add a few Roma and slicers to thin it out a bit as it can get pretty thick otherwise.  This is a healthy recipe that’s easy, fairly quick, and good tasting.  Enjoy!

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

8 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half

4-5 cloves garlic, or more if desired

8-10 large basil leaves

1 T. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. kosher salt

4-5 medium tomatoes, cut in wedges

1-2 T. extra-virgin olive oil

Remove stems and wash tomatoes.  Cut cherry tomatoes in half, and larger tomatoes in wedges.  Line 2 jelly roll pans with foil and drizzle olive oil on the foil.

Foil lined pan with olive oil

Spread out the oil and put cherry tomatoes on the foil, cut side up.  Place wedges on the foil, cut side up.

Peel garlic and place on the pan among the tomatoes.

Wash basil and add to the tomatoes, gently tearing the larger leaves.

Sprinkle the pan of tomatoes, garlic, and basil with balsamic vinegar and kosher salt.  Drizzle a little more olive oil on top.

Tomatoes and all the toppings

Roast in a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes are tender.

Remove from oven and blend together in a food processor till desired consistency.

In the food processor

Sauce will be thick.  Freeze in bags or  plastic freezer containers.  Makes about 3 pints.

Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Cooking, Gardening, Nutrition, Recipes

 

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Musings on the Question: “What’s for supper?”

“What’s for supper?” This has to be one of the most common questions uttered in homes everywhere.  At least, that’s my opinion on it.  Of course I may be biased – feeding a family of six and all.  Surely it ranks up there with “Are we there yet?” or “What time is it?” or my all-time favorite –  “Why?”  At least for my family it is.  I have no data to support my thoughts, just my experience as a mom and primary cook for my clan.

In fact, it’s a question I frequently ask myself – all too often at the same time my hungry kids make their way to the kitchen to ask the very same question or my husband calls to say he’s on his way home and was wondering “What’s for supper?”

I’ve pondered this question lately – probably as a result of listening to a reading of The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen. In it, he speaks of the choices we have in selecting our food, and how that’s changed over time. While I don’t agree with everything he writes, it did cause me to look at how our family answers the question: “What’s for supper?”  Here’s what I came up with.

  1. Taste and food preferences
  2. Availability
  3. Nutrition
  4. Cost
  5. Convenience

All these factors influence our food selection in one way or another.  But I think for my family taste and food preferences trumps them all.  If my family doesn’t like it and won’t eat it, it really doesn’t matter if it’s healthy, cheap, and convenient.  Are they ungrateful? No. I still try including those foods on our menu once in a while – usually as a side dish – just to see if I can expand their tastes a little.  And they usually humor me by trying it, and sometimes even liking it.

After taste come availability.  After all, if it’s not available in the store, pantry, freezer, or garden – it’s not likely to be found on our supper menu.  With today’s transportation abilities, however, that’s quickly becoming a weaker influence.

Nutrition and cost tie for the next slot. I realize others may think differently.  I’m all for eating healthy, and as a dietitian I’m always encouraging a healthy way of eating.  But there are times when a nutritionally superior food is just, well, too expensive. I love salmon, and it’s super healthy for you, but in the middle of the midwest in the middle of winter it’s just too much – at least for our budget.  So instead of the fresh salmon, we might have tuna or another type of fish that’s not so hard on the wallet, but still a healthy choice.  Suffice it to say that there is a balance.  For our family I will pay a little more for something that is healthier it if fits in our budget.  To me that is an investment in the lives of my family.  I just can’t fit in everything.

Last, but not least, is convenience.  This is not as high on my list of influencers, but it may be for others.  And truthfully, there are certain times of the year when convenience moves up the ladder a bit.  Baseball and basketball seasons come to mind – when quick meals and sandwiches seem to reign.

So that’s it. “What’s for supper?” All things considered, if it tastes good and my family likes it, it is reasonably priced, nutritionally healthy, and is available it will most likely make it to our menu at one time or another.  Convenience is icing on the top. So now, I’m curious.  What influences your food selection?  I’m sure there are other things I’ve missed or just don’t apply to our family.  How do you answer that question “What’s for supper?”

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Cooking, Family, General, Health, Nutrition

 

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Recipe Redo – Zucchini bread

We still have plenty of zucchini here, so I decided to try zucchini bread again.  Unfortunately it can be pretty high in added fat and sugar – not exactly what we’re looking for in a healthy diet.  I took a recipe I found in an old cookbook I had on the bookshelf called America’s Best Recipes – A 1989 Hometown Collection, and since I’d already made it as written I decided to try a few changes.  The original recipe had good flavor, but was a bit greasy and pretty high in sugar.  So I worked with it and reduced the amount of added sugar and oil, and substituted whole wheat flour for some of the all-purpose flour.  All in all these changes saved 40-60 calories, and 3-6 gm fat per slice – depending on how many slices you cut.  Changes in sugar and carbohydrate was small, only about 2-4 gm.  The resulting bread had good flavor and texture, and was much less greasy. I may change it further still to reduce the amount of sugar a little more, but here is the current recipe.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

3 eggs

3/4 c. granulated sugar

3/4 c. packed brown sugar

1/2 c.+ 2 Tbsp.  canola oil

1/2 c. applesauce

1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

3 c. shredded zucchini

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 c. almonds, chopped

Beat eggs in a large bowl until well beaten.  Add sugars, oil, applesauce and vanilla, beating well.  Combine cocoa, flours, soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a separate bowl.  Add flour mixture to egg batter, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Fold in zucchini and almonds.

Pour batter into two well-greased and floured 9x5x3 inch loaf pans.  Let sit for 10 minutes while oven preheats.  Bake at 350° for 50 to 60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of each loaf comes out clean.  Let bread cool 10 minutes and then remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.  Yields 2 loaves.

Nutritional info per slice (cut into 1/2 inch slices – 18 per loaf for a 9 inch pan): 118 calories, 5 gm fat (5.2), 17 gm carbohydrate

Nutrition analysis determined using the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2012 in Cooking, Health, Nutrition, Recipes

 

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Basil and Tomatoes with Bruschetta

It’s midsummer and my basil plants outside are big, bushy, and beautiful.  I love fresh basil and look for ways to use it in the summer when I have a lot of it around.  Combine with tomatoes and a couple other ingredients, and bruschetta is on the menu.

I don’t really have a recipe.  It’s more of a “method” of making it.  Place thinly sliced french bread on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.  Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder.  Place under the broiler and toast till golden brown.  Remove from oven and flip over.  Repeat the olive oil and garlic process on the plain side and then top lightly with shredded parmensan.  Return to broiler until golden and remove from oven.

For the topping dice up fresh roma tomatoes into a bowl.  I used seven roma tomatoes last night.  Add a few cloves of fresh garlic, minced.  Add sea salt per your taste preferences and mix in a bit of virgin olive oil.  A generous amount of chopped fresh basil goes in next. To finish it off, add a few splashes of basalmic vinegar.  Serve with the bruschetta slices and top with shredded parmesan.  Enjoy!  My family did. 🙂

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2012 in Cooking, Recipes

 

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