Garden Fresh Salsa

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So, rolling with the tomato theme – the other way my husband will eat fresh tomatoes! You knew this was coming, didn’t you?

I’m loving this version because we have tomatoes, onions and hot peppers in the garden currently  – so I can walk out the back door and grab the ingredients whenever I want and mix this up in about ten minutes.

I’m going to miss the garden when the season is over!

Garden Fresh Salsa
(slightly adapted from About.com)
Makes about 2 cups

4 Roma tomatoes
1/2 small onion
1 hot pepper (I used a Serrano pepper)
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a food processor, pulse one of the tomatoes, onion, hot pepper and garlic until finely chopped but still chunky. Transfer to a bowl.

Dice remaining tomatoes. Stir into the processed mixture. Stir in lime juice and sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Bruschetta

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You know how I said we had zucchini in the garden? That lasted for, oh, five minutes. Once again, our plants died off without producing much.

Tomatoes, though, are going strong. We’ve never had so many. Which is both awesome – I love it - and a pain in the butt – Mark doesn’t eat fresh tomatoes. Bruschetta is one of the only ways Mark will eat fresh tomatoes (salsa being the other), so I’ve been making this in force.

Bruschetta
(Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer

3-4 tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh shredded parmesan
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 baguette, sliced

Mix all ingredients together, except bread, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Toast baguette slices before serving.


Banana Bread

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I haven’t tackled that many kitchen projects since Jake was born, but when we ended up with a pile of over-ripe bananas, I decided it was time to get back to it. I’ve waned to try this recipe for a while – but never seemed to end up with enough bananas for it.

Even though this is a quick bread, it’s not super quick – but the extra steps give this bread a really flavor. I don’t know that this will be my go-to recipe just because of the number of bananas and steps (I’d probably want a truly quick bread recipe for most days), but it’s perfect for when I’ll want something a little special.

Banana Bread
(slightly adapted from The Science of Good Cooking)
Makes 1 Loaf

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
5 very ripe bananas, peeled
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F degrees and spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

Place bananas in a microwave safe bowl, cover, and microwave until bananas are soft and have released their liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to a mesh strainer over a bowl and let drain for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add liquid to a saucepan and reduce to 1/4 cup.

Stir reduced liquid into bananas until smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla. Add banana mixture into flour mixture until just combined, with some streaks of flour remaining.

Pour batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 45-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.


Brownies

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All of the brownie recipes on this blog so far start with a box mix. I like boxed-mix brownies – the soft inside and the shiny crunchy layer on top really do it for me – so I was never in a rush to make them from scratch. When I ran across this recipe, they looked like my beloved box version enough that I decided to give them a shot.

These were really, really good. A bit more work than a box – but totally worth it. If you’re a fan of boxed-mix brownies and looking for a from-scratch substitue, these are a great bet.



Brownies

(from Sweet Anna’s)
Makes one 9×13″ pan

3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2/3 cup butter, melted and divided
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups flour
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9×13″ pan.

Stir together the cocoa powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup of the melted butter. Stir in the water until the mixture is smooth. Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining butter until well combined. Stir in vanilla and salt until smooth.

Add in flour and chocolate chips and stir until just combined. Transfer brownie batter to the greased pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the edges of the brownies start to pull away from the pan slightly. Cool completely in pan before cutting.


Grilled Pizza

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This is, by far, my favorite summer meal. We’ve been making it for years and it’s something we make over and over during grilling weather – mostly because it’s so easy. This pizza takes almost no prep and cooks in about five minutes.

We generally don’t go in with much of a plan when making them – toppings are whatever we happen to have still in the fridge. Ham and pineapple is a favorite, as is kalamata olive and fresh basil. And we like to make them smaller so we can vary the toppings – and each person can top their own.

It’s meals like this that are keeping us sane with a newborn!

Grilled Pizza
(as seen on Eat at Home)
Serves 2-4

 1 lb. pizza dough
Pizza sauce
Shredded mozzarella
Your favorite pizza toppings

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and spray with nonstick spray.

Roll out dough as desired – we like to make four smaller pizzas because they’re easier to work with, 2 medium or 1 large would work too!

Place the dough onto the grill grates and cook for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is solid and has grill marks. Flip, add sauce, cheese and toppings and close the lid of the grill. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until cheese is melted and bottom has grill marks.

Transfer to a cutting board and let sit for a few minutes before cutting.

 


Creamy Taco Mac

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This could also be called “DIY Hamburger Helper” – it’s the same idea, but from scratch. There’s nothing super novel here but it’s quick and good and generally a crowd pleaser.

It also freezes well. I cooked this up before Jacob was born and froze half, casserole-style, for afterwards.

Creamy Taco Mac
(from Annie’s Eats)
Serves 6

1 1/4 lbs. ground turkey
8 oz. rotini pasta
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
4 Tbsp. taco seasoning
3 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. When you drain it, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey and onion together until cooked through. Add the garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant. Add in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add in the pasta, cream cheese, sour cream, pasta water and stir until the cheese is melted as all is well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for another 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce and serve.


Introducing Chef Jacob

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We have a new chef in our kitchen – Jacob William was born July 25th!

We’re so loving our new little guy. So far, Jake is an amazingly good baby. He’s making the transition to a family of three relatively easy on us, but we’re still working on getting our new routines down so new posts here may be sporadic.

We are eating, though! Mark has been on paternity leave with us for the last two weeks so we’ve been able to tag-team cook dinner every night. Soon, I’ll be sharing how we stocked our freezer and fed ourselves in the early weeks – and I’m sure there will be a new focus on easy weeknight meals and crockpot dinners going forward. You know, life with a baby and all.

I’d also love to hear your tips for getting dinner on the table with a newborn. What worked for you?

Hope you’ll all be around for our next chapter of cooking adventures!

PS – Thanks to Kristen for the adorable picture of our little chef! It’s fitting, don’t you think?


Cherry Sour Cream Pie

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This strawberry sour cream pie is probably my favorite pie – I make it during strawberry season every year. A few weeks ago when we ended up with a ton of cherries, I decided to try the pie in a cherry version and it was just as good.

It’s a tiny tweak to the recipe but definitely worth sharing!

Cherry Sour Cream Pie
(adapted from this recipe)
Makes 1 Pie

1 prepared pie crust
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
1 c. flour
1 1/4 c. sugar, reserve 1 tablespoon
Dash salt
1 c. sour cream (not fat-free)

Preheat oven to 450F degrees.

Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add sour cream, blending until creamy. Gently fold in the berries without over-mixing. Pour mixture into pie shell and spread to edges without packing down — there should be spaces throughout the filling. Sprinkle the top with the last 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake the pie for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350F degrees (leave the oven door open a minute to let the temperature drop a little) and bake an additional 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Broil the pie for 2-3 minutes to brown up the top. Allow to cool completely before cutting.


Cheesy Zucchini Bake

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We have zucchini in the garden this year. I feel like shouting it from the rooftops because our zucchini never seems to work out. Having an abundance now is a huge novelty and I’m happily working through some of the recipes I’d saved from previous years.

This side is pretty simple, but it’s a great one to have in your repertoire – easy, fast and delicious.

Cheesy Zucchini Bake
(slightly adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen)
Serves 2-3 as a side

1 large zucchini, cut into half moon slices
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. Herbes de Provence
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/3 cup shredded mixture of provolone and mozzarella, divided
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spray a small baking dish with non-stick spray.

Toss the cut zucchini with the basil, green onion, herbs, parmesan and half of the shredded cheese until evenly distributed. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to baking dish. Bake for 2-25 minutes.

Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese over the top and bake for 10-15 minutes more, until the cheese is nicely melted.


Honey Chipotle Chicken Tenders

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Surprise! It’s a chicken recipe! This is the first chicken recipe I’ve blogged since getting pregnant that doesn’t involve bite-sized pieces.

For most of the pregnancy, I couldn’t handle chicken cooked at home unless it was bite-sized. So weird. But, the last month or so of being pregnant, I could finally tolerate chicken strips and breasts again – so I made them in force. Funny enough, even though I made these as strips, they would have been excellent bite-sized, too.

The sauce is spicy-but-sweet and even though these are baked, they taste just as good as a fried boneless wing. They tasted like something we’d order when out for bar munchies. I’m planning to make them again when football watching season is in full swing!

Honey Chipotle Chicken Tenders
(adapted from Creme de la Crumb)
Serves 4

For the chicken strips:
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 eggs
1-2 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

For the sauce:
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. chipotle adobo sauce
1 Tbsp. hot sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1/3 cup cold water + 2 Tbsp. corn starch

Ranch dressing, for dipping

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and pepper until well combined. Whisk in the eggs and enough water to make the consistency a thick batter.

Dip the chicken into the flour mixture and then into the panko, coating well in each, and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 400F degrees for 20 minutes, flipping halfway.

While the chicken cooks, make the sauce: combine all ingredients except the cold water/cornstarch in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk together the water and cornstarch and add to saucepan. Stir until the sauce thickens. Reduce heat to low until ready to use.

After the chicken is done, dip strips into the sauce. Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.