Oct
09

Today, it rained, and rained, and then rained some more. While I was chilly and felt “wet” all day long, I was thankful that the garden got some good ole’ rain water – it seems to have a different effect on the garden than hose water does – in a good way.

My garden is still producing a variety of peppers, tomatoes, and herbs but I’m not sure how much longer it’s going to last. My tomato plants are looking pathetic, some have died off due to whiteflies. The pepper plants are still holding on strong, and the herbs are doing the same. My broccoli, kale, and cabbage are all infested with aphids. I never did figure out how to get rid of them. I will definitely have to fight harder against them next year now that I know they’ll be a problem. Sigh. 

Because of the approaching end-of-season, I made sure to take some photos of the garden – they very well could be the last photos taken of the garden this year.

garden tomato

garden cherry tomato

garden amana orange tomato

garden cherry tomato

garden tomato

As you can see, I’ve still got a variety of tomatoes growing. I picked a bunch earlier in the week to make a Pink Pesto (recipe coming soon!) and another batch of Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette. I probably won’t use either one of them right away, I’m freezing them for a later date.

garden eggplant

FINALLY, eggplants! It took this long…..

garden chili peppers

garden pinot noir bell pepper

A pinot noir bell pepper and an orange jalapeño – I have no idea how I got a hold of these things – but they’re stinkin cool.

garden orange jalapeño pepper

garden pablano pepper

I’m hoping this rain will stimulate some growth for the weekend, I’m not quite ready for the season to end yet…. 

In other news, I’m looking to buy a house right now and I am adamant about finding a place with a big huge garden space – will you cross your fingers for me and wish me luck? The search has been tough, competitive, and stressful….

Love

Crista


Sep
10

Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

The time of year when I have more tomatoes in the garden than I know what to do with has arrived. (yay!) 
I’ve compiled several tomato recipes but hardly have the time to make them all (let alone eat it all!) – You are ALL invited to dinner at my place ANYTIME. I need someone to help me eat all this yummy food I want to make.

Thank goodness I recently read a post about freezing whole tomatoes – it’s as simple as cutting the core out of the tomato and putting it in a ziplock freezer bag. I’ll have garden-fresh tomatoes to use all winter long! (yay!)

Cherry Tomatoes

For months, I’ve been dying to make this Roasted Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette with tomatoes from the garden. This quick recipe is perfect for anyone who has an abundance of cherry tomatoes because it is easy to prepare and can be used on several different dishes. I made a big batch of this vinaigrette with plans to freeze half the batch. 

The day I made this vinaigrette, I added it to a tomato/avocado/hummus wrap and it added a ton of flavor. This vinaigrette will also work well atop a chopped & roasted brussels sprout salad, or atop any savory salad for that matter. I may use it as a marinade for grilled veggies (kabobs??), or atop a grilled veggie dish (zucchini, for instance). A pasta, noodle, or quinoa dish would pair well with this vinaigrette as well. 

Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 large shallots, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425º F.
  2. On a baking sheet, toss the tomatoes, shallots, and 1 tablespoon of oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet. Roast for about 10 minutes. Toss, turn on the broiler, and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until the tomatoes blister and break apart.
  3. Let cool.
  4. Mix together the garlic, Dijon mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil.
  5. After the tomato-shallot mixture has cooled from hot to warm, toss with the vinaigrette. It will thicken slightly.

Cherry tomato Vinaigrette

recipe adapted from Food52

Love

Crista


Sep
19

Every time I step foot in to the garden ((which is every few days)) I found a new harvest of heirloom and cherry tomatoes ready for picking, they are ripening faster than we can pick them. I’m not complaining, we haven’t run out of ways to use them. The genius that is my mother-in-law ((am I scoring cool points??)) showed me how to make pizzas on the grill ((I told you she’s a genius)) with homemade dough, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. The dough that we used was spread quite thin so these “pizzas” ended up more like a flatbread. Whatever, they were awesome. Check them out:

margherita-flatbreadmargherita-flatbreadmargherita-flatbreadmargherita-flatbread
After one side of the dough was grilled, we flipped it and then added the ingredients. Because we spread olive oil on the dough before grilling, the dough maintained a chewy, yet crunchy texture and had a rich flavor.

When grilling pizza, it is important to keep the hood of the grill closed as much as possible, this is how you get the cheese to melt (if you are using cheese).

margherita-flatbreadmargherita-pizzamargherita-flatbread
What I liked most about these pizzas/flatbreads is that the tomatoes cooked minimally, allowing a full burst of the natural flavor (that you only get with home-grown tomatoes). We didn’t even have to add much salt to the pizzas because the tomatoes were naturally salty.

I’m thinking grilled pizzas would be fun to make for an outdoor event/party instead of grilling dogs & burgers.
Roll out some dough, set out a buffet of ingredients and allow guests to choose which toppings they would like on their pizzas.

Wouldn’t that be fun???!!!

 

Love

Crista


Sep
13

amana-orange-tomato
Tomatoes are in season! I’ve mentioned several times that we’ve got more than we know what to do with in our garden.

I never liked tomatoes as a kid but as I grew up, I learned that tomatoes play an important role in many food dishes so I learned to cook with them. It wasn’t until a few years ago – when I started gardening and growing my own tomatoes, that I grew an appreciation for different varieties of  tomatoes, and it wasn’t until then that I started to enjoy eating tomatoes raw. Now, I actually catch myself in the garden popping little tomatoes in my mouth as I pick them off the vine. There is nothing quite like a vine-ripened, organic, home-grown tomato.

Many of the recipes you see on my blog feature tomatoes as one of the ingredients, below I share six of those recipes hoping to inspire you to use some juicy red tomatoes in to your recipes.

smallCHICKPEAsalad
Chickpea & Tomato Salad with Fresh Basil

peach & tomato skewersPeach & Tomato Skewers

garlicky kale & white bean stewGarlicky Kale + White Bean Stew

tomato chutneyTomato Chutney

corn tomato basilCorn & Tomato Salad

 

Love

Crista


Sep
12

Jalapeno Kale Salad
Last week I got to visit my family in Indiana. The initial reason for my trip was to visit my grandpa was in town for the week (with his new girlfriend!) But I also got some quality time (shopping) with my mom. It was fun to visit and catch up and spend some time running around the house (and watching Mickey Mouse) with my 2 year old niece, Claire.

Colorful Kale Salad w/ Jalapeños // peace. love. quinoa

My mom makes a salad at least once a day whether it be for dinner or packed in her lunch. Whenever I visit, she seems to have various salad ingredients on-hand and can always whip up a quick meal. Together, we put together this salad using a few ingredients that she had and a few ingredients that I had packed. In a previous post, I mentioned that we’ve got hundreds of cherry tomatoes in the garden, so I picked a bagful (my mom LOVES tomatoes!) and took them with me, along with some jalapeños and a cucumber.

Jalapeno Kale Salad

In this salad, we used a baby a kale & greens mix, avocado, cherry tomatoes, carrots, butter beans, dried cherries, and jalapeños. I would have NEVER thought about slicing up a jalapeño and adding it to a salad had my grandpa’s new girlfriend not suggested it. My family was brave enough to try the salad only because they did not know what our secret ingredient was.

Jalapeno Kale Salad

Often times, I see people pick jalapeños out of our garden and just take a bite – it seems as though the peppers aren’t as spicy/hot when grown in a home garden. If anything, they pack flavor and that’s exactly what they did for the salad. You can see in the photos, I chose to slice the peppers very thing, long-ways but I think I would enjoy them chopped as well. 

Would you be brave enough to add jalapeños to your salad?

Love

Crista


Sep
08

garden

garden-2

garden garden-3 garden-4 garden-5 garden-6 garden-7 garden-8 garden-9 garden-10 garden-11 garden-12 garden-13
As you can see, we are in the midst of harvest time, the garden is fruitful and full of color. Every day I step foot in to the garden, I find vine-ripened tomatoes and peppers that are ready to be picked and eaten… in fact, we’ve got more cherry tomatoes & serrano peppers than we know what to do with. (but don’t worry, we got this…) I am bummed that our kale never recovered from the little buggers but I’m excited to finally find strawberries that haven’t been eaten by bunnies. (!!)

Check out some of my favorite recipes using ingredients fresh from the garden.

Love

Crista


Aug
28

One of my favorite things about summer is gardening. There is nothing more rewarding than planting a tiny little seed or starter plant and then watching it grow in to a beautiful, mature, edible source of food.  I can walk through the garden and find tiny buds, soon-to-be fruits and walk through the very next day finding the fruits ready for harvest. The magnitude of growth that can happen overnight is wondrous.

Below are some of my favorite dishes that I made this year using ingredients fresh from my own organic backyard garden. What did you make with the vegetables and herbs growing in your garden?

watermelon gazpacho Watermelon Gazpacho

garden-salsa Spicy Garden Salsa

peach & tomato skewerPurple Haze Tomatoes & Peaches

Cucumber Watermelon Quinoa Salad // peace. love. quinoaCucumber Watermelon Quinoa Salad

ginger mint ice tea Ginger Mint Iced Tea

fried green tomatoes Fried Green Tomatoes

tomato chutney Tomato Chutney

Chickpea & Tomato Salad with Fresh Basil Chickpea & Tomato Salad with fresh basil

Love

Crista


Aug
26

With more tomatoes growing in the garden than we know what to do with, I decided to make this Tomato Chutney when I came across the recipe. I absolutely love jams and jellies and chutneys but I’ve never made an attempt to make any of them until now.

Tomato Chutney

Tomato Chutney
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. assorted tomatoes (of choice)
  • 1 large onion, chopped into eights
  • ½ cup raw turbinado sugar
  • ⅓ cup white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • ½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • pinch of sea salt
  • large pot of boiling water
  • large pot of ice cold water
Instructions
  1. Cut a large “X” on the bottom of each tomato. Working in batches, place the tomatoes in a large pot of boiling water.
  2. Blanch for 30-60 seconds or until skins start peeling off. With tongs, pull the tomatoes out of the boiling water and immediately drop in to ice cold water; drain.
  3. Remove the skins of the tomatoes and discard. Remove the core and discard. Quarter the tomatoes and set aside.
  4. Pulse the onions in a food processor until chopped. Add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices and continue pulsing until the tomatoes are chopped.
  5. Pour the mixture in to a large pot along with all other ingredients; bring to a boil over medium heat.
  6. Cook, uncovered, for 1 hour or until mixture is thick and reduced, stirring often.

tomato chutney

This chutney can be used in a variety of different ways, here you see the chutney served with crackers, I can imagine a cheese would have sat well with the cracker + chutney. I can also imagine this chutney would be delicious served on top of a fresh fish filet or Fried Green Tomatoes. When I visit Indian restaurants, they always serve a variety of chutneys with their appetizers.

I can’t wait to share a few ways I’ll be using this tomato chutney in the near future.
How would you serve this chutney?

Love

Crista


Aug
16

peach & tomato skewer peach & tomato skewer peach & tomato skewer-4 peach & tomato skewer

You know those sayings… “they’re like two peas in a pod..” or “they go together like peas and carrots..”

((can you tell I watched Forrest Gump last night?))

I say we make a new phrase, “they go together like purple haze tomatoes and fresh ripe peaches.”

I’m honestly not sure there is a better fruit/veggie combo than this one.
But then again, those Purple Haze tomatoes would be good with a variety of different things, they’re good on their own – they taste sweet like candy.

To accompany the perfect pair, I added fresh mint and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Love

Crista