Archives for posts with tag: Olive oil

Feb 27 2013 044

I bought a couple of pounds of roma tomatoes at the store.  They were a wonderful color and looked yummy.  These tomatoes were not very yummy.  As a fresh tomato these little fruits were completely useless.

Being frugal I could not throw them out.  Oven drying was the only solution.  This way the sugars in the tomatoes would be concentrated and the flavor enhanced.  I do not like to waste food.

I had some fresh thyme that I had frozen when I realized I would not use it up by the time in turned.  Freezing thyme is a great way to preserve it when you are not going to use the whole bunch.

I tossed the tomatoes in a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Threw on some sea salt and pepper and tossed some garlic and fresh thyme on top.

Feb 23 2013 053I set my oven and 250 degrees and let the tomatoes roast for 3-4 hours.

Feb 23 2013 079I took out the thyme stems and saved them in a bag in the freezer for stock and packed the dried tomatoes and garlic in a jar with some olive oil.  The tomatoes last in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks or 2 months in the freezer.  Use the oil to coat veggies, for a tasty salad dressing or spread on some fresh-baked bread.  Do not throw out the oil after you have used the tomatoes as it has a great flavor for the herbs, garlic and sweet tomatoes.

Feb 27 2013 046

These sweet dried tomatoes are very versatile.

Here are 10 ways to use oven dried tomatoes:

1.  Pizza topping

2.  Toss with pasta, olive oil, garlic and a good cheese

3.  Antipasti

4.  Top a salad with bacon and blue cheese

5.  Add to mayo and it is great in a sandwich or as a dipping sauce with fresh veggies

6.  Add to your favorite pasta sauce to punch up the flavor

7.  Add to stew at the end of cooking for a sweet complexity

8.  Add to soup with kale, white beans and garlic

9.  Blend tomatoes, oil that you stored the tomatoes in, and more fresh herbs with some balsamic vinegar for a delicious salad dressing

10. Toss with feta, kalamata olives, olive oil and grilled veggies

What do you use your oven dried tomatoes for?

Check out Lucys Friendly Foods for a great antipasti salad recipe.

I had always wanted to buy that bag of organic farro at Costco.  I would pick it up and just look at it but I would always put it back.  Nothing was coming to mind as to how I would use it.  I love it in soups but I am usually in a salad mood this time of the year.

I read this post from Orangette.  She used farro as a warm side dish with caramelized onions and feta.

I then saw this post from Epicurious.  This salad was a bit closer to what I was looking for.

I had some lovely grape tomatoes, a chunk of french feta and some kalamata olives.  I think you can see where I am going here…

I cooked the farro as per the instructions on the bag but added some herbs and garlic to the cooking water.  Make sure you cook the farro al dente.  It keeps a wonderful chewy texture and sweet flavor if you do not over cook it.

Letting it sit after being cooked in a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and herbs overnight in your fridge is really the way to go.

I wanted to bulk out the salad and bit so I tossed some baby organic spinach in right before serving and poured some more olive oil over the salad.

Perfect.  Just the right combination of nutty grain, sweet tomatoes, salty olives and feta and the fresh bite of spinach.

Farro, Baby Spinach, Tomato and Feta Salad

Cooking the farro

1 cup dried farro

2 cups water

1/4 tsp granulated garlic

1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil and add salt, garlic and thyme.

Add farro and boil until tender but not over cooked.  Al dente is just perfect for this grain.  Drain water and put cooked farro into a bowl with oil, vinegar and season to taste.  Let sit in your refrigerator until chilled or best yet leave it there overnight.

For the salad

1 cup halved sweet grape tomatoes

1/2 cup kalamata olives

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

5-6 cups fresh baby spinach

Toss farro with the above ingredients in a large bowl and serve.  Add more balsamic or olive oil as needed and season to taste.

Yesterday my husband and I spent the whole afternoon in our garden.  My hands are a bit worse for the wear and I was tired and cranky last night but it was well worth it.

For those of you who garden, you will really understand the joy of watching your seedlings come up and urging them along.

We face several challenges gardening in the Rocky Mountains at 8000 feet.  First off, you can get frost up until the middle of June and as early as late August.  We have set up a system to cover the garden this year.  Last year we had several tomato plants with lots of green tomatoes and corn and zucchini we lost to the frost.  We are much more prepared this year.  I also learned you can pull up the tomato plants and hang them upside down in a sunny spot in your house and the tomatoes will continue to ripen.

Then there are the critters.  Ground squirrels, rabbits, prairie dogs, deer and elk all menace my garden.  We have a garden that has been dug underneath at about 4-5 feet and with heavy-duty mesh wire sheets laid down so the burrowing creatures cannot help themselves to our crops.  The garden is actually above this mesh with dirt about 4 feet high over the mesh. This wire mesh continues up the sides of the fences and the fences are 7 feet high to discourage the deer.  Now as for the Elk we just have to cross our fingers that a huge bull elk does not decide to push the fence over to get at our goodies.  It has not happened yet!  Cross your fingers for me.

My husband spent about a week this spring re-building the door and reinforcing the fence around the outside so there are not any holes for ground squirrels to get in.  I had a lovely crop of cabbage and collard greens that the ground squirrels enjoyed last spring because we had a hole in the fence.

It is such a gamble to try to garden under these conditions that the chance we will succeed with gardening is pretty small but we also learned a lot last year to help us protect the garden this year.  If this project fails at least we had fun doing it.  I loved hanging out with my husband in the quiet mountain air and listening to some classical music on his smart phone while digging in the dirt.  Yesterday afternoon was priceless.

Before we started out to the garden plot we sat down for a tasty and light salad for lunch.  We talked about how fun it would be to eat our own salad greens.  The ones we were eating came from Whole Foods.  Our salad rows are looking like they have been chewed on by the moths that come out in the early evening.  Do any of you experience gardeners know how to deal with this?

Spring Salad with Chevre, Chicken and Red Onions

Serves 4

1 lb Mixed Spring Salad Greens

1/4 red onion sliced thinly

1/2 carrot grated on a box grater on the small holes

1/2 lb Laurels Chanel Chevre crumbled

8 chicken tenders

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Place chicken tenders in a roasting pan and drizzle 1 tbs balsamic vinegar and 1 tbs olive oil over the top.  Season with sea salt and cracked pepper.

Bake until cooked through but not tough on the outside.  About 15 minutes or until internal read thermometer reads 160.

Cool in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Toss salad greens, grated carrot and sliced red onion together.

Top with shredded chicken, crumbled goat cheese and 1 tbs balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Season to taste.

These little beauties came from my sister Carman’s garden in California.  She is an outstanding cook and I really enjoyed cooking with her when I visited recently.

She brought over a huge box of beets.  I jumped right on it.  When I roast beets I usually peel them and wrap them in foil.  About 2 years ago I started to roast the beets diced and laid out on a sheet pan tossed in olive oil with sea salt and cracked pepper.  This is now my favorite way to cook beets.

All you need to do is crank up the oven to 450 degrees.  Cut the beets into a medium dice and toss with olive oil, sea salt and pepper.  It makes for easier clean up if you line the sheet pan with foil.  Roast for about 15 minutes or until beets are tender.

My favorite way to enjoy the roasted beets is to sprinkle some goat cheese over the top and put back in the oven for another five minutes.

Serve hot!

Here are some tasty links to other beet recipes.

Beet basics from Martha Stewart

Roasted Beets with Cumin and Mint

Various Beet information from the Farm





When my husband and I were first married we lived  on the coast of California right outside of Monterey.  What a terrible place to live!  Great weather,  world-class restaurants, stunning ocean beaches all within 10 miles.  This is where most of the strawberries, garlic, lettuce and artichokes are grown that people enjoy all over the United States.  There were 2, year around farmers markets and dozens of organic farms within a 1/2 an hour drive. 

I worked for a couple of years at a wharf side seafood restaurant in Monterey.  It seemed that after going to see all of the wonderful fish at the aquarium at Monterey Bay people wanted to eat fish.  While working in a seafood restaurants it was  one of the first times in my life where I ate fish regularly.  Not just at  the restaurant I worked at but some of the other restaurants in the area.  I can remember having a cioppino in a little French restaurant with only 6 tables that tasted of the sea, sunshine and fresh fields.  We loved to go to a little clam chowder shack and have clam chowder in freshly baked bread bowls.  Not the kind you find in chain restaurants but real freshly baked tangy, tender and crunchy crusted sourdough.  I can recall a calamari dish that I can honestly claim had the most tender and flavorful calamari I have ever eaten.  I frankly have stopped ordering calamari at restaurants because it never lives up to my expectations after the calamari from Monterey Bay.  One evening when my husband and I were driving home late  I looked out over the bay and it was beautifully lit with little white lights.  Those were the calamari boats out fishing in the early hours of the morning.  It was one of the most captivating sights I have ever seen. 

We do not eat enough fish in my household these days.   I have been reading about sustainability issues and seafood and am committed to serving, to my family, more fresh fish that is sustainably farmed.  This brings me back to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and its wonderful website on sustainable fish and seafood.  You can download and print and fish and seafood buyers guide that will tell you which fish to choose for the most sustainable choice.  The Seafood and Fish Buyers Guild.

I have found out, from the seafood buyers guide, that the flounder that I  have purchased from Whole Foods is actually a recommended substitute but not the most sustainable choice.  I am now downloading the app from the Monterey Bay Aquarium so that I can know while at the store what is the best choice.

Tonight my fish entrée features flounder.  This mild tasting white fish has a sweet flavor.  If you do not like the “fishy” tasting fish then flounder is a good choice.  It has such a mild flavor that it will take on the flavors of the added ingredients.  I added some sweet grape tomatoes, sweet sun burst tomatoes, fresh thyme, rosemary, lemon juice and  minced shallots and just piled it all on top with a good drizzle of olive oil and roasted it in the oven on broil.  This is similar to the way I prepared Chicken with Feta, Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives and Fresh Herbs.

The best thing about cooking fish for dinner is it cooks quickly.  This dish took about 10 minutes to throw together and roasted in the oven on broil for 10 minutes. 

Flounder is a lean fish so you need to cook it quickly and with liquid.  The juices from the tomatoes, lemon juice and olive oil help keep the fish moist during broiling and will mix with the juice released from the fish for a light and flavorful sauce. 

Flounder with Fresh Herbs, Lemon, Tomatoes and Shallots

4 Flounder Fillets

8-10 Grape Tomatoes sliced in half lengthwise

8-10 Sun Burst Tomatoes sliced in half lengthwise

1/2 Shallot Minced

6-8 Sprigs Fresh Thyme minced

2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary minced

2 TBS Fresh Lemon Juice

2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pre-heat oven to broil or as high as you can set it.  I used broil setting on high.  Spread 1 TBS olive oil on bottom of baking dish.  Lay fish in a single layer on top of oil and season with sea salt and pepper.  Pour over lemon juice and top with shallots, herbs and tomatoes.  Top with remaining olive oil.  Bake for 10 minutes or until fish is completely white and flakes apart easily.

After the rib fest this weekend salad seemed like a great idea.  I love the combination of lamb and feta cheese.  This recipe works well as a salad but I usually make up about 40 meatballs and freeze them for other dishes.  The meatballs work well in a curry, soup or with a tomato oregano sauce over rice. 

These meatballs are both low carb and gluten free.  I do not use any bread crumbs as a binder.  Just feta cheese, herbs, organic eggs and red wine with lots of garlic.

Bake the meatballs at a high temperature of 425 until browned and fully cooked inside about 20 minutes.

Cool in oven and serve with organic salad greens, fresh grape tomatoes, feta cheese and kalamata olives.  Drizzle the salad with good extra virgin olive oil and just a splash of red wine vinegar. 

Greek Lamb Meatballs

1 lb Ground lamb

1 lb Ground lean beef

3 cloves garlic minced fine

2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or 1 tablespoon dried

1/2 cup good feta cheese crumbles

2 organic eggs

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup red wine

Mix everything together in a bowl and let sit in your refrigerator for 1-2 hours or until cold.  This will help all of the flavors blend and the meat to firm and keep a meatball shape better.

Shape meat into balls and bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees.  Let cool and serve with feta cheese, organic salad greens, fresh grape tomatoes, kalamata olives and greek yogurt.  Also good with grilled pita bread.

Freeze remaining meatballs for later use.




What is it with Cauliflower?  This frequently overlooked veg is fabulous.  When treated with love and respect Cauliflower will reciprocate with a sweet flavor that just cannot be beat.

At the store recently I was confronted with a particularly lovely head of organic cauliflower.  I gazed upon its creamy white head.  Ah so beautiful.  Looked at the price and said “ouch”.

I walked away but kept thinking about the lovely cauliflower.   I came back and grabbed it.  My veg budget was skewed but I was happy.

At home I cut up the veg and tossed it with some olive oil and sea salt.  Laid it out on a foil lined sheet pan and cranked the oven up to 425 degrees.  Added some fresh cracked pepper over the top and tossed it in the oven.  Turned on the oven light and sat down to keep an eye on it.  After about 10 minutes the cauliflower was browning nicely on the very top edges and on the bottom side that was connected to the hot pan was browned perfectly.

I brought it out of the oven and impatiently waited while it cooled.   As soon as the veg was cool enough to handle I grabbed a floret and popped it in my mouth.  OOOOOOhhh….

So very yummy.  Sweet, salty and tender.   I grated some white sharp cheddar cheese on top and let it melt.  I used a Dubliner Irish Sharp Cheddar from Costco.  Delightful.

If you have not roasted cauliflower before please do so,  you will not be disappointed.  It was even wonderful cold, straight from the fridge later that night.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 597 other followers