Tuesday, September 29, 2009

how to use up the tomatoes

One of the places I miss eating at in Santa Barbara is Woodstock Pizza in Isla Vista. I'm sure there's better pizza in the world, but for some reason I loved eating there. I especially loved their cheesy wilde bread with Ranch dip and whenever we ordered pizza I would have them put fresh tomatoes on top when it came out of the oven. So good. So that's something I've been doing with our tomatoes when we have pizza. Good stuff.
Homemade tomato soup! I used this recipe here. This is actually HF's favorite meal. Grilled cheese with tomato soup. It didn't make a lot of soup. This was really good though. I think I am going to double or triple this recipe and freeze it flat in gallon freezer bags to enjoy in the next few months. I would for sure recommend putting it through a sieve after you puree it. I don't like chunky tomato soup. We get our kids to eat it by sprinkling goldfish on top, handing them a spoon, and saying, "Go fish!"
This was probably one of the best ways I've ever had pork roast in my life. I browned the picnic roast (it was about 3 pounds) on all sides in a little olive oil. Then I added a couple of freshly chopped tomatoes, a handful of fresh cilantro, a sliced green pepper, and a quartered white onion. I poured in 1-2 cups of water, and a cup of brown sugar and let it simmer all day. SO GOOD. I was just trying to use up what we had and use the stuff from our garden.
Homemade pico de gallo. I used Elise's recipe at Simply Recipes.
My favorite: The BLT. We spread mayonnaise on both sides of the toasted bread, put on 3-4 slices of bacon, 2 thick slices of tomato, and a lettuce leaf. I always add sliced avocado, coarse pepper, and then place the remaining slice on top. TO DIE FOR.

What have you been doing with your tomatoes? Any suggestions?

bentos nos. 15-20

fresh cooked tortilla rolled up with cinnamon and sugar. I cut it into 4 chunks to fit inside box. Golden Delicious apple, quartered, home made peanut butter dip made with natural peanut butter, honey, cinnamon, and apple juice, carrot from our garden, chicken pieces mixed with BBQ sauce, and home made potato wedges. These were good, but I breaded them. Next time I will leave the bread crumbs off.
strawberry yogurt, grape tomatoes from the garden, dinosaur footprint cookies, cantaloupe, fried chow mein noodles, and rolled up muenster cheese
bento for HF: cantaloupe, cucumber sticks, deli turkey rolled up, cheese chunks, package of Sauri cookies (mexican sandwich cookies), homemade hummus, grape tomatoes, carrots from our garden cut in flower shape, and pita bread cut into triangles.
bento for baby: This was a dinner for our 11 month old: grape tomatoes, halved, with cucumber bits, apple slices, hummus, and pita bread strips. He ate a little bit of everything. I made the hummus with cumin and I think I'll leave it out next time.
pita wedges, 1/2 apple, banana bread, hummus on top of a cup of cucumber sticks, carrots, and grape tomatoes.
not a very good picture, but this is pancakes cut into wedges with a little container of syrup, cantaloupe, Chinese Almond cookies, carrots, cucumber, edamame, and a little container of ranch dip. This was too much food to send for lunch, but she ate a little of everything. Too many containers also. Next time I would do the pancake with syrup, some fruit, and one type of vegie all shoved into one box.

Friday, September 25, 2009

friday nights: movie and a pizza

Every Friday we make or order a pizza and a get a movie to watch as a family. Our daughter has been wanting to watch James and the Giant Peach for a while now. Since I'm one of those (insert sarcasm) amazingly creative super moms, I try to come up with a treat that matches the movie the kids have chosen to watch. We also do this activity whenever we read a book that is also a movie. We will read the book first, then watch the movie with a themed treat. It's fun. So for tonight's feature film, I came up with this idea. It was fast and easy. I went to the grocery store that is just a block away and bought a giant peach. It seriously was huge. then I bought a bag of gummy worms. You've probably guessed by now what I did. Yes, I put the worm in the peach. If you haven't seen this movie, or read the book, James along with some other insects change when they eat a piece of the peach and they become the same size and they can talk to each other. It's been a long time since I've read the book. They travel together to get to New York. Anyway, there is a spider, a ladybug, a grasshopper, and a few others. Maybe a centipede. We actually have toy insects like that, but i couldn't find them. Otherwise I would've had them join this photo session with the peach. I think they turned out pretty cute otherwise, and the kids loved eating wedges off the peach while they watched the movie. Of course they did eat the gummy worms first.

I took one worm and cut it in half. With a straw I made two holes and put half of the cut worm into each hole. The kids thought it was the coolest thing ever. The Black Forrest gummy worms have smiley faces. I didn't know that.

fried zucchini

The zucchinis that came out of our garden this year were humongous. It was amazing to check them one afternoon and see that they were still fairly small. The next day they had grown by leaps and bounds it seemed. The giant ones I shredded up for later use and stuck in the freezer in freezer bags. The smaller ones I cut at an angle into coins for fried zucchini. They were delicious! The measurements for the ingredients are just a guess. You may need more or less of the flour, milk, and bread crumbs. You will notice I didn't use any egg. It didn't need it at all.

1-2 zucchinis
2 cups milk
1-2 cups flour
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
oil for frying

First cut your zucchinis into desired thickness. Not too thin, but not very thick or it won't cook well. Place coins in container along with the milk. I let them soak for a few minutes, making sure that none of them are stuck together. Next I put the flour into a gallon ziploc bag or a large bowl. I remove the zucchinis from the milk using a slotted spoon and dump them into the bag of flour to coat evenly. You will probably have to break some apart as they like to stick together. Once they are coated evenly, you will dip them one by one in the milk once again and immediately coat with the breadcrumbs. Once all the zucchinis are breaded, they are ready for frying. Place a couple of paper towels on a plate and place a few zucchinis in hot oil. Fry on one side until golden brown, then flip over and fry the remaining side until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel covered plate. Serve with ranch dip if you like.

Here are some other zucchini recipes I might try to mix things up a bit.

Zucchini and Rice Casserole from All recipes
Zucchini Cakes from the Pioneer Woman's friend, Ryan. I think these are also called Zucchini Fritters.
Spinach and Zucchini Soup from 101 Cookbooks.
And last but not least, it's the Zucchini Weenie as seen on Al Dente. Fair Food. I think it actually looks pretty tasty! It would have to be a Hebrew National hot dog for me to eat it though. . .

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

zucchini bread with miniature chocolate chips

In my freezer right now are at least a dozen if not more of these ziploc bags of shredded zucchini. One bag is a serving for a batch of zucchini bread. And I still have a few more giant zucchinis to work with!

I adapted this recipe from one I found online at allrecipes.com.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs (I always use medium eggs when baking now. For some reason it seems to work better)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 -3 cups grated zucchini, do not squeeze or drain excess moisture or liquid
1 cup miniature chocolate chips, semi-sweet (optional)
  1. Grease two 8 x 4 inch bread pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the wet mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes (mine is always at least 1 hour), or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

garden produce coming out of my ears

This is about what we get 3 to 4 times a week from our garden. And that's divided between 3 families. An amazing garden this year. So i'm going to be featuring a few things we've done with the produce.
This is usually what one side of our sink looks like. Full of vegetables.
I love our little carrots. They are so short and fat. I did not expect them to turn out like this. Did we do something wrong?! They still tasted good.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

more bento (#10-14)

I repeat a lot of what I put in these. Especially now, during the summer when we have vegetables coming out of our ears from the garden. So grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots are pretty much always in here.

This bento is a little more adventurous than usual. I've got the usual tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots in the middle. On the left, those balls are what's called, Arancini, an Italian food consisting of risotto rice with mozzarella in the middle, covered in bread crumbs, and fried until golden brown. On the right are Banana Bites, chunks of banana covered in melting chocolate and rolled in sprinkles. Both the Arancini and the banana recipes were found in a children's cookbook by Annabel Karmel.
mini waffles, strawberries, mozzarrella cheese chunks on cute little animal picks, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers.
daddy bento: Arancini, cucumber, cheese, grape tomatoes, banan bread, strawberries, a mixture of cheddar bunnies, almonds, and pretzels, and some little Hershey's Hugs.
As you can see, I just use a regular Rubbermaid container for his bentos. It works perfectly.
another daddy bento: leftover roast with mashed potatoes and gravy, the same cheddar bunny mixture with almonds and pretzels, tomatoes, grapes, cheese, and some Ritter Sport chocolate with almonds.
grapes, Annies Cheddar Bunnies, banana bread slice, cheese, grape tomatoes, and a tuna fish sandwich on wheat bread, cut into fish shape with mini chocolate chip for eye, and pretzel piece for smile. Well, kind of smile.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

bentos 5-9

daddy bento: I usually make him a couple of these to take with him to work so he has 2 meals during his shift. Sometimes it's not enough food. Sometimes it's too much. I have yet to figure out the right balance. This is 2 wheat tortillas rolled up with turkey, cheese, lettuce, and homemade ranch dressing, grape tomatoes from our garden, red grapes, and 2 cookies.
school bento: red grapes, edamame, boiled egg, mini twisty pretzels, corn-cut off the cob, the flower toothpick has cheddar cheese cut into flower shapes, and banana bread.
red grapes, edamame, peach yogurt, banana bread, deli turkey rolled up and skewered with a cute little lion pick, grape tomatoes.
breaded chicken nuggets, little container of BBQ sauce, grape tomatoes, green grapes, cheddar sun chips, banana bread wedge.
I don't know why this picture is turned the other way. This is a snack bento for HF. It has grape tomatoes, green and red grapes, cheese pieces tucked on the edges, a nut mixture I made that has peanuts, cashews, pretzel pieces, and raw almonds, and Ritter Sport chocolate.