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Category Archives: Tomatoes

Use Those Late Cherry Tomatoes to Make Some Bruschetta

As the chilly fall weather descends upon us, we decided that today was perfect for making “lazy chili”–that is, opening a can of Chili Magic, adding some ground beef and tomatoes, and doctoring it up with peppers and spices to suit our tastes. Not having checked the garden in several days, we were afraid that our tomato season had ended and that we would have to rely on a can of diced tomatoes.  However, covered against the drizzle, Bill managed to pick enough tomatoes and peppers to throw into the mix.

Dieter, our 15-year-old German Shorthair Pointer, is thrilled that we still have some tomatoes hanging in there.  And when you are about a thousand years old in people years, those small joys are to be savored.  Dieter’s arthritis has gotten too bad for him to be able to go for a walk around the neighborhood.  Even if he is feeling particularly spunky, there is a good chance that he will just stop and refuse to move at some point of the walk, forcing us to carry his 55 lb self back home.  Therefore, when he feels like exploring, we’ve taken to allowing him to wander around in the part of the backyard that is usually off-limits to the dogs:  that mysterious area beyond the picket fence where the garden grows.

When he is back there, he can follow the scent of the bunnies and squirrels that are frequent visitors, mark his territory by the fence that separates us from the neighbor’s two dogs, and best of all…get up close and personal with THE MAGIC PLANTS. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, whenever we are in the garden he stands by the picket fence, drooling and waiting for us to pitch him some of his favorite–cherry tomatoes. Due to this, we now seem to have a baby cherry tomato plant growing from a crack in the patio where those tomatoes land and break open.

When Dieter encounters the wonder of the tomato plants himself, I have to watch him closely or he will eat himself sick, greedily pulling tomatoes off of the vine or devouring half-eaten ones that have been discarded on the ground by local critters.  Plus, tomatoes are members of the nightshade family, and dogs should not eat the leaves, stems or green tomatoes. So, I am careful about what goes into his mouth and down his gullet. But, oh, how feisty he gets! Tomatoes are to Dieters like catnip is to cats.  Like crack. So, I let him indulge his obsession for a bit before either gently guiding him away from the plants–or the more likely scenario–giving him an “airplane ride” back to the other side of the picket fence.

If you still have cherry tomatoes ripening in your garden, or even if you have to pick some up at the store, I’d like to suggest using some in this yummy bruschetta (broos-ket-a).  Unlike Dieter, I am not the world’s biggest cherry tomato fan, but I really love them on this.  It is a perfect appetizer or accompaniment to a hearty Italian meal, or served with a bowl of steamy soup for lunch on one of these brisk fall days.  Dieter dog, this one’s for you!

LIGHTLY COOKED CHERRY TOMATO AND RICOTTA BRUSCHETTA: http://www.herbivoracious.com/2011/08/lightly-cooked-cherry-tomato-and-ricotta-bruschetta-recipe.html

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Salsa Chicken is a Simple Choice

It is frustrating at times to be a passive-aggressive indecisive person living with an equally passive-aggressive indecisive person.  Figuring out what to have for dinner often goes something like this:

Bill:  I’m starving.

Me:  Yep.  It’s getting to be about dinner time.

Bill:  It is.  Oh my God.  I’m starving.

Me:  Did we thaw any meat?

Bill:  What kind of meat do we have?

Me:  I’m guessing that’s a “no,” so we’re going to have to go out to eat or pick something up.

Bill:  OK.

Me:  What are you hungry for?

Bill:  (Playing Scrabble on smart phone) I don’t know.  What do you feel like?

Me:  I’m not the one who’s starving.

(Bill becomes re-absorbed in Scrabble and I go off to feed the dogs, who have blissfully eaten the exact same thing for dinner every night of their lives).

Bill:  (20 minutes later) So, what are we going to do for dinner?  I’m starving.

For a while, we thought we had this dilemma solved by inventing the ABC Restaurant Run game.  Starting with the letter A, each time we went out to eat, we would choose a restaurant beginning with the next letter of the alphabet.  Once we hit Z, I made up little pieces of paper with names of restaurants on them, and we would randomly draw one when we couldn’t make a decision.  I think I need to find those papers again…

Why is it so difficult for us to figure out where to get a simple meal?  Because we are JINXED, that’s why.  You see, far too often, when we have a hankering for a certain restaurant and actually make a hard and fast decision, we get thwarted.  To prove this point, within the past couple of weeks, here are some scenarios that we have encountered upon driving to our destination:

Chosen eatery:  Colombo Italia.  We decided to check out this restaurant in downtown Mt. Clemens that we had never tried.  It was pitch black inside–creepy even, with no sign of being inhabited anymore…except maybe by Freddy Krueger.  Which is entirely plausible, knowing what the basements of those old buildings are like.

Chosen eatery:  Firehouse Lounge (on Harper).  We got close and noticed that there were no cars in the parking lot, and there were no lights on.  There was a note on the door, but we didn’t even turn into the parking lot to read it.

Chosen eatery:  Quiznos.  Closed at that location. Forever.

Chosen eatery:  Zack’s Hot Dogs. I was craving a Rachel Dog.  Sadly, they no longer have dinner hours at that location.  Only lunch.

Chosen eatery:  Maya’s Deli.  This little place in downtown Mt. Clemens has some spectacular sandwiches!  Only, apparently, they are not open on the weekends.  So we decided just to get some tacos from Taco Bell.  Simple enough, right? I shit you not, our local Taco Bell, which we pass several times a week, has suddenly been reduced to a pile of rubble.  A pile of rubble! Because it knew we were coming.

This is why I am thankful for easy recipes, such as Salsa Chicken, that can be thrown together in a matter of minutes–even using oven ready tenders if we haven’t thawed anything–thus avoiding the drama of choosing a restaurant that will ultimately be unavailable.   For example, last week, after returning home from a party where we had just nibbled on appetizers, Bill uttered his famous words, “I’m starving.”  I yanked a package of breaded chicken tenders from the freezer, poured some salsa on them, topped them with cheese, and threw the whole thing in the oven.  When it came out, we garnished it with jalapenos and sour cream–and it was the perfect stomach filling, liquor absorbing, post-cocktail dinner.

Salsa Chicken has many variations.  For the meat, you can use boneless chicken breasts, tenders, breaded tenders or just about any other poultry parts that you know how to cook in an oven.  The salsa can be from a jar, the deli department, or homemade–hot, medium or mild.   Cheese?  You know me with cheese…the more, the better!

Here is a link to the base recipe for SALSA CHICKEN that we’ve use for several years now:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/salsa-chicken/detail.aspx

More about the salsa: In the summertime Bill and I make two different kinds, using a base recipe, but throwing in whatever kinds of tomatoes and peppers happen to be ripe in the garden.  The first salsa is good with chips and with the chicken, but because of the beans and corn it can also be eaten as a stand-alone side dish.  The second salsa is a nice fresh pico de gallo.  We adjust the heat by how many jalapeno seeds and membranes that we leave in.   I would give credit to the creator, but I’ve had that one in my recipe book for a while, and did not print the source.

Cilantro, Black Bean and Corn Salsa

CILANTRO, BLACK BEAN AND CORN SALSA

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/heathers-cilantro-black-bean-and-corn-salsa/detail.aspx

Fresh and Chunky Salsa

FRESH AND CHUNKY SALSA

Ingredients

  • 3 large ripe tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 hot chile peppers, Serrano or Jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp cilantro, minced
  • 1 1/2 -2 tbsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

1.   Boil enough water to cover tomatoes.  Dunk them in for a minute, take them out and plunge in cold water. Peel, seed and chop.

2.  Put chopped onion and garlic in a strainer; pour 2 cups of boiling water over them, then let drain thoroughly.  Discard water. Cool.

3.  Combine onion and garlic with chopped tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper.

4.  Refrigerate for 2-4 hours to blend flavors.  Makes about 2 cups of salsa.

Click FRESH AND CHUNKY SALSA for a printable PDF of this recipe.

30 Minute Chicken Parmesan with Speedy Homemade Tomato Sauce

Chicken Parmesan with Homemade Tomato Sauce

My usual energy level is only slightly greater than your average thee-toed sloth. This is one of the major reasons that, on this eve of the first day of school, I am relieved not to be teaching first grade again.  Having to deal with the thousands of issues that arise in a class of 29 feisty six year olds every day, all day, is the most mentally, physically and emotionally draining job I have ever done.  And I had to teach them on top of it all!  Putting in twelve hours each day in my unrealistic desire to do everything perfectly resulted in my gradual zombification.  I believe that the only thing that I was able to utter in a family or social setting for nine months was, “Uhhhhhh.”  And that happened only when the chronic laryngitis subsided long enough for my damaged vocal cords to produce sound.

To say that the munchkins sapped my energy is an understatement.  Since I had very little to start with,  and conjured incredible amounts for work, I was running on negative when it came to my personal life.  It took me several weeks of summer to begin to recuperate and rise out of my stupor.   Today, as we get ready to start another school year, I had what was–for me–an impressive burst of energy.  My first one in a year.  Here is what I proudly accomplished, in addition to my regular daily routine:

  • Did yoga in my living room
  • Weeded all the vegetable and flower beds
  • Mowed the lawn
  • Made dinner–the whole darn thing–not just a side dish
  • Got a haircut
  • Wrote a blog

The garden beds were in terrible shape.  We have been up north a lot lately, and so our maintenance of them has been less than impressive.  The cucumber vine had withered away to nothing, squash beetles were sucking the last bit of dignity out of the zucchini plants, and the corn is busy turning into the dried-out front porch decorations that they will become next month.   Also, weird shit has started to grow.  Mysterious flowers and plants have sprung up where they have never existed before.  I’m guessing the seeds were dropped via birds, kind of like how we ended up with a tomato plant growing in the dogs’ gravel potty area–unintentionally sown by Dieter, my tomato eating dog.

If you are talented in the identification of plants, could you please help me figure out what these are?

Hibiscus?

The one shown above is growing up under my June-blooming rose-bush.  I think it’s a hibiscus, right?  I honestly thought these only grew in Hawaii.

Mystery flower: Morning glory?

I found this purple one vining its way around my strawberry patch.  Is it a type of morning glory?

Pseudo Corn

I’ve posted a picture of this one before.  It is growing in the gateway to the alley behind the house.  I have been thinking it is corn, but although the stalk and leaves look similar, it is not producing ears, and the tassel on top resembles a squirrel tail.   I am calling it Pseudo Corn until I can figure out what the heck it is.

After I got done gardening and puzzling over mystery plants, I went inside to make dinner.  I mis-timed my yardwork, however, and due to an impending hair appointment, I did not have the 48 minutes of prep time I would need to make what I had originally planned.  So, taking advantage of my continued and unusual energy burst, I decided to improvise:  Chicken Parmesan with Homemade Tomato Sauce and corn on the cob.  And by George, I was going to make it all in 30 minutes (eat your heart out Rachael Ray).  It is this type of overly ambitious thinking that wore me out last year, but tonight it worked for me.

The corn was from a roadside stand, since ours has been done for a while. Here’s my impromptu recipe–portions made 2 servings:

CHICKEN PARMESAN WITH HOMEMADE TOMATO SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • Frozen breaded chicken breast tenders or patties
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 – 6 tomatoes
  • ketchup
  • dried basil and oregano (or Italian seasoning)
  • shredded mozzarella cheese, or blend of Italian cheeses

Directions:

  • Set a pot of water to boil (Cover it to make it boil faster.  I used the same pot and water to cook my corn).
  • Mince garlic.
  • When water boils, drop tomatoes into it for about a minute.  Take them out and put them in a dish of cold water.  Peel off skins, core and run fingers inside of them to expel all the seeds.
  • Bake chicken in oven according to package directions.
  • Roughly chop tomatoes.
  • In a small/medium saucepan, begin to cook garlic in olive oil until fragrant.
  • Add tomatoes, a squirt of ketchup, and a pinch of the dry spices to the garlic and cook over medium heat until bubbly.
  • Take pan off of stove and dump sauce into blender.  Puree for about 8 seconds.
  • When chicken has cooked, pour sauce over it, top with shredded cheese and put under the broiler until cheese melts.

This was so simple and tasty!  I may make more of this sauce and can it for the winter. Click CHICKEN PARMESAN WITH HOMEMADE TOMATO SAUCE for a printable PDF of this recipe.  I posted the directions for my homemade meat sauce earlier, but this is much quicker, with fewer ingredients.

Whew!  Now I only have a few minutes left before bed.  Time to relax and look forward to being a part-time reading support teacher this year.  Oh, and doing educational consulting and sales.  And some volunteering.  And taking classes toward a second master’s degree.   Hope I have enough energy for all that…

Festivals and Zesty Pierogi Galore

Pierogi with Warm and Zesty Slaw

You’ve gotta love it when there are multiple local opportunities to patronize beer tents, sample great food, listen to music, and experience the horror of what some people actually choose to wear out in public.  Yes, the Labor Day weekend festivals have arrived here in Michigan!  The people-watching will undoubtedly be most entertaining early in the weekend, with the steamy temperatures causing sweaty masses of inappropriately clothed folks to take to the streets in search of entertainment.

In our area, we have several events within a reasonable driving distance from our house to choose from, including:

  • Arts, Beats and Eats
  • The Michigan Renaissance Festival
  • The Michigan Peach Festival
  • The Hamtramck Labor Day Festival

Sadly, the Michigan State Fair–a tradition since 1849–no longer exists, having fallen victim to state budget cuts.  So, we will not be able experience the miracle of a piglet being born (or the joy of gazing upon the Butter Cow) and must choose an alternate venue in which to battle aggressive bees and guzzle warm beer/overpriced freshly squeezed lemonade.  This year, Bill and I are going to hang out at  Arts, Beats and Eats.  With over 70 food vendors to choose from, I hope that I am not paralyzed by indecision as to what to eat.  At the other events, the choice is simple:

  • The former State Fair:  Funnel cakes, elephant ears, Pepto Bismol
  • The Michigan Renaissance Festival:  A gigantic turkey/pterodactyl leg
  • The Michigan Peach Festival:  Duh, peach things
  • The Hamtramck Labor Day Festival:  Pierogi

I am partial toward pierogi booths at festivals, if I can find one.  To me, a nice little cardboard boat filled with beer-absorbing potato and cheese filled dumplings is a perfect street snack.  I had some yummy ones at the American Polish Festival in Sterling Heights earlier this summer, accompanied by a unique taste treat, “Polish Nachos.”  However, with so many other choices available at Arts, Beats, and Eats, I will try my best to spend my food tickets on something new and exciting this evening and maybe find an alternate favorite that will not cause too much GI upset.

In honor of my beloved festival pierogi, I shall now struggle into some too-small cutoffs, don a nasty tube top and a cougar cowboy hat, and share with you a magnificent recipe that we make when we harvest a head of cabbage from our garden and the tomatoes are bountiful.  It is called simply, “Pierogies and Cabbage,” but that does not do proper justice to the tangy and slighty sweet deliciousness of the warm slaw that is created here.  I would like to re-dub it “Pierogi with Warm and Zesty Slaw.” Bill made this a couple of weeks ago, and went all out to maximize the taste of both the pierogi and the slaw–he browned the pierogi in real butter, and cooked the cabbage mixture in bacon fat (as called for in the recipe).  By all means, feel free to substitute olive oil if your arteries are clogging just reading that.  We do not cook with full fat too often anymore, but made an exception here–and it was spectacular!  If you are going to be in Hamtramck this weekend, bring home some fresh pierogi and give this dish a try.

NOTES:

  • We increased the amount of white wine vinegar from 2 teaspoons to 3 to give it a bit more zip.
  • Pierogi is actually the plural of the Polish word pierog (I am missing an accent mark over the o, but do not know how to make one in this program). Saying “pierogies” is mis-pluralizing.  Like saying “feets” or “breasteses.”  http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=breasteses
  • What is a cougar cowboy hat?  My definition is: a narrow, woven cowboy hat, curled up on the sides, occasionally seen on cute 19 year olds, but most often sported by cougars with hair extensions and George Hamilton tans who are sipping yard long margaritas with collagen induced trout lips.  Natural habitats include fairs, festivals, concerts and Muscamoot Bay.
  • Never fear: I do not actually own a nasty tube top or cougar cowboy hat, retired my butt-cheek length cut-offs in the same decade as my cheerleading uniform, and do plan to check my outfit from all angles in a mirror before heading out this evening.

PIEROGI WITH WARM AND ZESTY SLAW: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pierogies-and-cabbage/detail.aspx

Julie’s Homemade “I Can Do It” Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti with my Homemade Meat Sauce

Since this post is about my making my own homemade spaghetti sauce, the context of the experience would be incomplete without the story of how I set water on fire in my early spaghetti making days.  Yes, folks, for years afterward I considered myself such a horrible cook that I could even set water on fire.  This incident happened back when I was in high school, and was one of three major kitchen mishaps of my youth–the other two being The Great Mustard War and the Wall Oven Meatloaf Disaster.  There were also intentionally horrifying culinary creations that originated in my parents’ long ago kitchen, with its turquoise boomerang formica countertops, blond wood cabinets and built-in Carol Brady oven.  Those, however, are stories for another day.

Setting water on fire was particularly mortifying to me because it happened when I was cooking what was supposed to be a romantic dinner for my date.  Also, because my date was the kind who would never let me live it down.  There I was, about sixteen years old, trying to impress my boyfriend with my domesticity.  When he arrived at my house, I had the Ragu-based meat sauce simmering and the salad all ready to go.  All that was left were the noodles.  While waiting for the water to boil, we ate our salads, and I awkwardly tried to be a charming and flirtatious hostess.  I had taken the seat closest to the stove, which meant my date–who sat across from me–was facing it.  All of a sudden, his eyes got huge.  I thought he was either choking or about to lavish praise on the miraculous salad I had bestowed upon him.  Instead, he shouted that the pot on the stove was on fire.

I was relieved that I did not have to perform the Heimlich maneuver, sad that my salad got no props and terrified that I was about to burn the house down.  We both leapt from our chairs, not sure what to do, but fairly certain that “Stop, Drop and Roll” did not apply to this situation.  As quickly as it started, the fire burned itself out, and we cautiously approached the stove to examine the forensic evidence.  My date was baffled by the fact that there was only water in the pot.  I knew that appearances could be deceiving.  You see, I had heard that if you put just  a bit of vegetable oil in the water when cooking pasta, the noodles won’t stick together.  It quickly became apparent that I had filled the pot with too much water, and when it boiled, it overflowed, causing the vegetable oil to ignite on the burner.

If I were to psychoanalyze myself, my lack of desire to cook during the following twenty years of my life could maybe be traced back to this embarrassment, as could the failed marriage to the guy who incessantly mocked me about it for years.  Hmmm…gotta love blogging as therapy.

Back to the present. Now that my self-esteem has mostly recovered from the trauma caused by that formative life experience (except for my lingering fear of fire), I once again enjoy making spaghetti.  I have tried many jarred pasta sauces in the past few years, and have settled on Sockarooni by Newman’s Own.  Not only is it all-natural and tasty, but the name is AWESOME and fun to say (Sockarooni! Sockarooni! Sockarooni!), and all proceeds go to charity.

However, when  tomato season arrives at our house, it seems silly to use tomato sauce from a jar, so last year I boldly did some experimenting and created my own recipe.  And it’s GOOD, if I do say so myself.  🙂  It is a thick and chunky meat sauce that is easily adapted to different tastes.  Leave in more jalapeno seeds if you want a kick or leave them out if you prefer a non-spicy sauce.  Bell peppers and mushrooms can be used or not, depending on your preferences.  I don’t like something that’s in Italian Seasoning, so I just add basil and oregano, but if you’re a fan of Italian Seasoning, go nuts.  Also, I used ketchup, but you could put in tomato paste instead. Use as much of it as you need to make the sauce the consistency you want.  Oh…and I no longer spike the pasta water with oil–go figure. It’s much safer just to toss the cooked noodles with some olive oil to keep them from sticking together.

BTW, if you are looking for something to do with any leftover spaghetti noodles, I highly suggest feeding them one by one to your dog, if you have one.  It is highly entertaining, complete with slurping and teeth gnashing, as you can see in this YouTube video featuring my dogs Dieter, Tigger, and the late Katie.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfWUTW1arGc

JULIE’S HOMEMADE PASTA SAUCE

Note:  All measurements are approximate and may be adjusted to taste. Makes approximately 4 servings.

  • 1 lb ground sirloin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped onions
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Dried basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 jalapenos, minced–leave a few seeds in for some spice
  • 5-7 medium-sized tomatoes
  • ½ cup ketchup (a few squirts)
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, minced
  • 1 small can mushroom pieces
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed (this is not necessary, but why not sneak in some healthy Omega 3s)
  • Cornstarch, if needed for thickening

Set a pot of water to boil for peeling tomatoes.  Meanwhile, brown ground sirloin in olive oil with onions and bell peppers.  When meat is almost browned, add garlic, jalapenos and dry seasonings.  Turn off heat when done, to deal with tomatoes.

When water boils, plunge tomatoes in pot for one minute, then remove. When cool enough to handle, core, peel and seed them.  Chop and mix remaining pulp into meat mixture.  Use a turkey baster to drain any excess liquid/grease.

Add ketchup, fresh basil, mushrooms, and flaxseed to meat/tomato mixture. Bring to a boil, and then turn down heat to simmer.   Simmer for 15-20 minutes minimum, longer if possible, until tomatoes and peppers have softened.  If sauce is too watery, cook longer or add a bit of cornstarch to thicken.

Serve over pasta or spaghetti squash with parmesan cheese and a salad and/or garlic bread.  Actually, I found a yummy bruschetta recipe that would make a great appetizer or accompaniment for this dish.  Stay tuned…

Click JULIE’S HOMEMADE PASTA SAUCE for a printable PDF of this recipe.

It’s Time for Some Naan-sense

One of my major pet peeves used to be seeing–and especially hearing–people eat on TV.  Those snack commercials with the close-ups of psychotically enthusiastic people crunching a chip grossed me out, and I could not understand why advertisers would feature people extolling the virtues of their product with full-mouth-induced speech impediments:  “Wow, thatsh sho tashty!”

Honestly, I still hate those commercials, but ironically, I love watching the Food Network and other food based reality shows.  For one thing, rarely are chewing or crunching sounds audible when food is sampled. Thank you, sound engineers.  And also, they seem to train their show hosts to speak clearly with a big honkin’ mouth full of a fussily arranged and pleasantly garnished dish.

Bill and I relax and unwind at night while watching The Next Food Network Star, America’s Next Great Restaurant, and Hell’s Kitchen, among others.  One of the appealing things about these shows–besides feeling superior when experienced chefs mess up a rudimentary task, such as cooking pasta–is that sometimes their creations and/or ingredients are intriguing.  This will occasionally inspire us to try new foods and new recipes.

For example, Bill’s mouth was watering like Homer Simpson dreaming of donuts while watching The Next Food Network Star last week.  Contestant Vic Vegas Moea was making lamb burgers, and lamb is one of Bill’s favorites.  So, the next day we hit the grocery store so that he could buy the ingredients and try it out.   While he was in the bakery department, futilely searching for individual hamburger buns (he really didn’t need a package of eight), I wandered around perusing the rest of the baked goods, doing my own Homer Simpson impression.  I snagged a bag of pretzel bagels and skipped over to add them to the cart, just as Bill noticed packages of freshly baked Tandoori Naan.

Naan is a type of bread that we have seen on various cooking shows–usually used by Indian-influenced chefs.  It is a leavened flatbread cooked in a tandoor (a clay oven).   We had never tasted it before, and Bill decided on the spur of the moment that he was going to use it, instead of a bun, for his lamb burger.   We got home, and Bill went to work on Vic’s recipe, while I tried to decide what I was going to have for lunch–I do not eat lamb.

I took a look at what we had around the kitchen, and decided to do a bruschetta type of creation.  I brushed both sides of my piece of naan with olive oil, topped it with sliced golden tomatoes and basil from our garden, and finished it with some fresh grated parmesan cheese.  I put it under the broiler just long enough to melt the cheese.  Holy cow, was it ever spectacular!  The naan was pillow-y soft, with just a bit of chew.  I will be purchasing it often from now on.  I truly think just about anything would taste better on it or with it, but it really was a fantastic complement to my simple toppings.  Just consider it my Italian-Indian fusion experiment.  Sounds classy–like it could be on one of those shows.

Here is the link to the lamb burger, which Bill describes as one the best things he’s ever eaten!  (He didn’t use anything from our garden, but I had to post the recipe since he liked it so much.  The “mayoli” has garlic in it, and we do grow garlic–it just isn’t ready yet.  And it calls for dried basil–guess he could have used fresh, but he stuck to the directions on this one).

LAMB BURGERS WITH CARAMELIZED RED ONIONS, MAYOLI AND FETA

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/lamb-burgers-with-caramelized-red-onions-mayoli-and-feta-recipe/index.html

An Unforgettable Dish: Cheese Ravioli with Fresh Tomatoes and Artichoke Sauce

Cheese Ravioli with Fresh Tomato and Artichoke Sauce

There are some things that are best forgotten:  embarrassing moments, old grudges, unfortunate hairstyles, and anything done after five or more cocktails.  On the other hand, it is best not to forget things like birthdays, anniversaries, making the mortgage payment and bathing.  I have been particularly forgetful lately, and it is driving me bananas.  Although my hygiene has been properly maintained and home foreclosure is not imminent, in the past couple of days I have neglected to: remember to buy necessary items at the grocery store, write a blog post, make a doctor’s appointment, and pick the rest of the corn from the garden.

Not picking the corn was a serious oversight–critters made a feast out of five of our beautiful ears!  Only two were left intact, which I immediately pulled off and took inside.  I am very sad and am mourning the tragic loss of our tasty little crop.  I am also kicking myself, because when I picked two ears for dinner a couple of nights ago, I gleefully noticed that the ears were perfect, and I made a mental note to go out and get the rest of them before the neighborhood wildlife discovered them.  Which I promptly forgot to do.

My memory has been so flighty the past few months that even my attempts to help myself are inadequate.  I’ll make a list to take to the grocery store and either forget to include important items, or forget the entire list on the kitchen table.  I’ll diligently enter an appointment in my cell phone and set an alarm to notify me of it an hour in advance.  But then I’ll forget to charge my cell phone or to keep it nearby, so I never hear the alarm.  I’ll write things on sticky notes and forget where I stuck them.  *Sigh.*

Bill and I are especially bad about remembering to take out meat to thaw for dinner.  This is why, during the school year when we are both working, we end up getting a lot of fast food.  We do manage to plan for those kinds of days once in a while, though.  We try to keep some items on hand that do not require thawing or loads of preparation, such as frozen or refrigerated cheese-filled pasta.  We boil it up, toss it with a bit of pesto and serve with some garlic bread and/or a salad for a filling meatless meal.

The following recipe is great if you are going meatless or just forgot to buy or thaw meat.  In the winter, we use canned diced tomatoes for a super quick dinner.  But in the summer, when the garden tomatoes are fresh and abundant, we chop up a bunch of those instead.   The recipe calls for roma tomatoes, but we use whatever the garden is producing.

CHEESE RAVIOLI WITH FRESH TOMATO AND ARTICHOKE SAUCE:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/cheese-ravioli-with-fresh-tomato-and-artichoke-sauce/detail.aspx