Thursday, June 28, 2012

A-MAZING Cucumber Salsa

I just had a taste of an amazing cucumber salsa this morning (yes, this morning - there's never a bad time for salsa).  SO good.  It was so refreshing, and I could see myself consuming an entire batch alone.  So off to the store I went to get what I needed to make it ASAP.  It's the perfect taste for a hot day like today!

It had garlic scapes in it - and I had seen them at the farmer's market this weekend, but didn't know what they were, or what I would do with them.  Enter my mom, who introduced me to the salsa, and Google, where I figured out exactly what they are!  Here ya go:

Garlic scapes are the curly flower stalks snapped off the garlic plants (which is done to increase the size of the garlic bulbs for harvest).  Garlic scapes can be chopped and used like garlic, or used as garlic-flavored scallions (mmmmmm - stir-fry?!).  You should store them in the fridge, unwashed, loosely-wrapped in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks.

So here's the recipe - amounts are guessed on - you know how I cook - I chop, toss and taste - so adjust to your own personal preference - enjoy!

Cucumber Salsa

1 cucumber, seeded and diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
½ white onion, minced
1-2 tbsp. EVOO
1 tbsp. vinegar
1-2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
garlic scapes, chopped (taste one, see what you think - I used about 4)
1 tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, chopped
juice of 1/2 a lime (more or less, your call)

Combine all ingredients, toss gently to combine, cover and then refrigerate to let flavors combine.   Serve with tortilla chips, or on top of a delish beef barbacoa, like I will be!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Watermelon & Feta Salad

Watermelon and Feta?  Really?

Yes.  REALLY.  The salty and the sweet, with a little heat from the pepper, is seriously good.  It's super refreshing in the summer, too. Try it - I think you might be surprised!

I'm no carver of fruit, but it was kind of fun to serve the salad in the hollowed-out melon at a shower we did - I think next time I'd slice the melon the long way, though, for a longer, lower "bowl".  It looks great in a Pampered Chef "Simple Additions" square bowl, too.  (You're welcome, PC friends, and again, Pampered Chef, feel free to hook a lady up!)  

Watermelon & Feta Salad

3 c.  2"chunks watermelon, seeded (I'm lazy - I use seedless)
1 c. crumbled feta cheese (reduced fat is fine, just get a good brand)
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (optional) OR chop up some arugula and add that for a little peppery taste
1/4 c. red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, feta, and a few generous grindings of black pepper. For a little more zing, add the red pepper flakes or the arugula.  The onion is optional - not everyone is an onion lover, so add only if you're a big fan! Chill in the fridge until it's time to serve. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Freezer-Friendly Calzones

I whipped these up the other night when I needed to use up a handful of leftover pizza ingredients in the fridge.  I made my own dough, but you can usually buy some in the deli section of your grocery store.   I didn't measure, so I am kind of guessing on the quantities here - that's the beautiful thing about these, though - you can just wing it with the filling, and it usually works out fine.  Feel free to use what you have on hand, or get creative with your filling ingredients.  I ran out to the garden and just grabbed a few handfuls of fresh herbs, so you can use what you have in your garden, too. 

Either par-bake the calzones, and then wrap and freeze for another night (thaw and then bake until golden), or just throw them in the oven for dinner (even better, make a double batch if you have enough ingredients, and do one batch for dinner, and one for another night!). 

Freezer-Friendly Calzones

1 recipe bread machine pizza dough (or whatever you prefer)
1/2 c. Mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1-1/2 c. Ricotta cheese
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh arugula, chopped
2 tbsp. onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. chopped pepperoni and/or Italian sausage (browned and drained) - more is fine - whatever you like

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and set aside.  Divide your dough into 4 smaller balls, and then roll each one out into a small circle.  Place 1/4 of your topping onto one half of the dough, and fold over the dough to make a half-circle.  Crimp edges with your fingers or a fork to seal, and poke a few slits in the top to let steam out.  You can brush the tops with a little EVOO.  If frozen, thaw par-baked calzones  in the fridge before baking.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake until golden, about 30 minutes.  Serve with your favorite marinara or pizza sauce on the side.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Marinated Pork Tenderloin for the Grill

I found some pork tenderloins on special a few weeks ago, so I bought a few, made some into freezer meals and left the rest "plain."  I'm thawing the last one out today for dinner.  Here's the marinade I'm trying, using fresh flat-leaf parsley from our garden - tried to make it easy with the measurements, but you can tweak here and there to your liking.  We're going to grill it, but you could prepare it in the oven, too. 

Marinated Pork Tenderloin for the Grill

1⁄3 c. olive oil
1⁄3 c. soy sauce
1⁄3 c. c. red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2-3 tbsp.)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1-lb. pork tenderloin

Whisk together all ingredients, and either pour over tenderloin in a non-reactive dish, or put it all in a Ziploc bag and marinate in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours.  You could toss it in the freezer for another night, too (or even better, make one for tonight, and another for the freezer!) - just don't thaw it out and then re-freeze it without cooking the meat.  

Preheat your grill, and then grill tenderloin until meat reaches 160 degrees.  Toss some veggies or potatoes in a grill pan to do the whole meal on the grill. 

To prepare in the oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  If you're feeling fancy, you can sear the pork in a skillet with a teeny bit of oil before you put it in the oven.  It adds a little flavor and helps keep it moist.  Place in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes or until the meat has reached 160 degrees. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Stopping By....

I miss sharing new recipes, but life has been nuts!  I promise this summer, I will be trying out a few new ones every month, and try to post things.  In the meantime, I have been coming back to the archives here for the tried and true recipes, especially things that we can throw in the slow cooker on baseball nights! 

Our family's eating habits have evolved, and I realized it when I was looking in the cupboards for some nonperishable foods for a food drive.  And we really didn't have much to give.  The fridge and the freezer on the other hand, have been well-stocked (not so good when the fridge decides to go on the fritz, but that's not a story worth reliving). 

So I definitely need to come up with some new freezer meals and good family-friendly dinners that utilize fresh ingredients, and organic or almost organic meats without breaking the bank.  It's been a good thing to reduce the amount of meat in our meals, regardless.  I haven't been doing freezer meal swaps as much, either, since it's so much more expensive to do them when you don't use the ginormous chicken breasts that can feed a family of four with a single breast, etc. and people seem to balk at a higher cost exchange, even if it's healthier.  We'll see what happens!

Please feel free to share your recipes and ideas for eating better on a budget (and when life is busy) in the meantime, and you can most likely find something you haven't tried in the archives... I'll be back!