Category Archives: Recipes

Summer Harvesting in North Florida

It is hot here. Very, very hot. I didn't think anything would grow due to the extreme heat. And, we didn't want to have to do an excessive amount of watering. But, thankfully, I have a smart cookie for a husband who does his Florida gardening research.

And, so let me say this here in this space: he was right about the calabaza vines and the eggplant. 🙂

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(a baby calabaza over a month ago)

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We have gotten at least ten of these head-sized pumpkins. They are a fleshy peach color and taste similar to butternut squash or fresh pumpkin. I cut them open and roast them in the oven and store the flesh to make pumpkin pie or pumpkin muffins. We've also been making a cubed squash recipe with white beans and fresh herbs. Yum.

And, on those days when we brave the grill outside?

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The eggplant is ours. Grown in our front yard (where we get sun). We use this recipe – delicious. (And spread some on the accompanying zucchini and onions too). And, finally, since this seems to be an "I eat my words" kind of post (with regards to the garden)…I bring you the watermelon.

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We planted these back in March…everyone else harvested watermelons in early July. So, we did too. Only the first two we picked were light pink and still kind of white…and not very tasty. I assumed they were grown in poor soil (we just stuck the two plants in a patch where we had taken down 4 trees). So, we left the remaining ones on the vine. I was ready to abandon the remaining four watermelon…give them up to the compost bin without even cutting them. But, my lovely husband gave them a final chance – and we are so happy he did. This watermelon had been sitting in the fridge for a couple of weeks and he cut it one night…and it was soooo good. I'm looking forward to eating the other ones as well. And, so are the kids.

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Cooking and Creating

Today is Monday.

Monday in my house typically means I am baking. A lot. We've usually run out of bread/muffins/breakfast munchies. But, today, I felt inspired and tried a bunch of new things. The boys helped, of course. (I am really loving four-and-three-quarters. Ronan is a great help).

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(This is a mushroom)

We made play-dough. From scratch.

Yes, I am impressed with myself. I know that everyone else has been doing it for ages, but the cooking part kept putting me off. But, it was a rainy afternoon and I was looking for things to keep us occupied (as if cleaning the kitchen from the above-mentioned baking wasn't enough). I came across this post and that was the recipe we followed. It was so fast and easy…Ronan mixed everything together and I "cooked" it on the stove for a couple of minutes.

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We let it cool and then added colors. Initially, I was afraid to add the food coloring because I thought it might come off on their hands…and their clothes…the wall, etc. But, once it was thoroughly worked in, nothing comes off onto their hands…maybe a little bit of the veggie oil used in the recipe. That's all.

I also tried a new recipe :: cheesy crackers

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They were (yes, they've all been eaten) delicious. I was lucky I even got a picture of them before they were gone. (I had to save these for Joey since the kids couldn't get enough of them). The recipe is from The Sneaky Chef, though I adapted it a bit (I added back the fat and took out the wheat germ). They are nutritious and my kids loved them. Next time, I am quadrupling the recipe and freezing the extras.

Cheesy Crackers
adapted from The Sneaky Chef

2/3 cup chickpea puree
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 heaping TBSP Asiago/Parmesean (I used Percorino)
4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/3 cup white flour whole wheat pastry
1/3 cup whole wheat flour

**REVISED 10/19 ** Eliminate the white flour and use whole wheat pastry instead. Cook for longer – 20 minutes and on a lower temperature.

Small cookie cutter…we used a diamond shape.

1. Preheat oven to 375. 325 degrees
2. Combine everything but the flour
3. Add flour and mix well.
4. Wrap in foil/parchment paper/plastic bag and put in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
5. Roll out to 1/16 inch thick and let the kids help use the cookie cutters.
6. Place on oiled cookie sheet and bake for 12-14  20-25 minutes.
7. Transfer to rack to cool, assuming your children do not gobble them up before they are done cooling.

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I have been reading Real Food by Nina Planck and I am getting pretty on board with the use of more traditional fats in our diets. (In moderation, of course). This is a good cross between The Omnivore's Dilemma and Nourishing Traditions. It's a pretty interesting read.

And, so, since I added back regular cheese (since the author recommends low-fat), these were a little oily. But, very, very good. I think am going to try to bake them for a bit longer on a lower temperature – maybe 325 for 20 minutes. I'll let you know how they turn out.

And, why did I take out the low-fat cheese? Well, I stopped buying low-fat cheese many, many years ago because it was unfufilling and seemed odd. Also, in Planck's book, she mentions that low-fat products (cheese, milk, yogurt) all have powdered milk in them.  Apparently, powdered milk creates oxidized or damaged cholesterol. Very interesting book indeed!

Farfalle Gorgonzola

A few years ago (pre-kids), we were fortunate to spend a weekend at a bed and breakfast on Amelia Island. It’s a cute, sleepy little town with independent bookstores and a quiet, “lost” Florida type of beach.

We chose to eat at the local restaurant in the the converted house next door. I think it was called, The Christmas House. It had handmade quilts hanging on the walls and was owned by two sisters. I’m not quite sure how we discovered that they were soon closing the restaurant, but our bed and breakfast was buying the house to convert it into more rooms.

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner – and I ordered Farfalle Gorgonzola. It was some of the best pasta I’ve ever had and except for the few bites that Joey kept stealing from my plate, I devoured the entire thing.

Both Joe and I were so impressed with this entree that we were trying to decipher the ingredients in hopes of recreating it when we returned home. My husband, being the lovely extrovert that he is, suggested that we ask the chef for the recipe.

Aghast, I couldn’t imagine being so forward. But, my husband persisted and he kindly asked our waitress (one of the two sisters) about finding out how to make the dish. She went back to the kitchen and out comes her sister (the cook) with a yellow legal pad and a pen.

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Farfalle Gorgonzola

Ingredients:
– Generous handful of tomatoes (one handful per person eating)
– olive oil (about 2 Tablespoons per 4 servings)
– chopped garlic
– salt and pepper to taste
– butter (roughly a tablespoon per handful of tomatoes)
– 1 lb. crumbled gorgonzola cheese (per 4 servings)
– cheap vodka for flambe
– cream, if needed
– 1 can of artichoke hearts or asparagus or spinach (whatever you have on hand)
– Farfalle (bowtie) pasta

Directions:
1. Cut up tomatoes (Roma work best) and gently heat olive oil in pan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. Fry tomatoes until they are soft and begin to change color. (This could be anywhere from 5-15 minutes, depending on how many tomatoes you use).
3. Add 1 glove of garlic for each handful of tomatoes. Allow to simmer for a minute or two.
4. Add 1 TB of butter per serving. (I don’t add quite this much – I add about half that amount and it still tastes fine)
5. Turn the heat to high and add the gorgonzola.
6. Add some vodka…”3 glubs per person. Use cheap vodka” and then light that sucker on fire. (If you’ve never flambeed before…you want to have a cookie sheet or something nearby in case the flames get too high. Fire extinguishers are always a good thing too).

**This sauce does taste better when flambeed, but for the past couple of years, I make it without the vodka. There’s something about fire and a helpful 3-year-old that just don’t mix). **

7. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so (I do this to kill off any potential bacteria in the soft cheese). Add cream if it’s not thick enough.
8. Remove from the burner and use another pan to gently fry the artichoke hearts or asparagus to top the pasta.

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And, the very best part of this recipe (besides the taste) is that it freezes well. Oh, yes, there are a few in our freezer right now.  A great recipe to welcome a new baby. The sauce will stay good for a little over a month in a regular freezer, probably more if you have a deep freezer. Just warm up it up in the oven or toaster oven and serve over pasta. Enjoy!