PREPARING TO SAY GOODBYE TO SUMMER

14 Sep

Although August will be behind us, summer isn’t officially over until the first day of autumn on the 23 of September. But, I have been harvesting my garden for the last few weeks, it still has a long way to go until complete fruition. I certainly have been delighted with all the wonderful tomatoes and peppers and herbs that it has produced and I have been very busy in my kitchen experimenting with some great tasting recipes using my tomatoes plus a huge basket from my son-in-laws garden-you have not tasted a tomato until you tried one of his-actually my seedlings are grown by him from the previous years tomato seeds.  I also have been creating all kinds of delectable recipes from the zucchini from my friends garden and that is what my update is all about today, using summers bounty to fortify our bodies with all those nutrients to sustain us this winter, which according to the new Farmer’s Almanac is going to be a very cold and snowy one.

 But before I get into sharing my recipes, I want to take a minute to acknowledge the fact that HealthyCookingForToday.com was 6 years old on August 8 and this update begins the first one to kick off year 7.  When I first began writing my cooking column in our local newspaper way back in 1988 my dream was to produce a column that would be interesting reading for cooks and non-cooks alike.  I wanted the column to feature food for the mind, as well as the body with researched information about health, nutrition and food preparation sprinkled with a little bit of humor, personal stories about myself and family and timely topics.  When the newspaper decided to shut down in 2008, my family suggested that I get a website and today although the site doesn’t draw the thousand plus hits as better known sites do, I am very happy with what I am doing.  Unfortunately, like everything else, to get your site out there, it takes money.  My feelings are if someone enjoys it and benefits by it in some way, they will tell someone else and in my book that is the best advertising.

 Back to my garden an all those beautiful tomatoes, which are doing so well this year-I can’t say that about my basil, as it is the saddest looking plant in the garden.  Tonight I am going to make tomato puree in my Vita Mix machine-you will find information about my Vita Mix in my Word Press Archives by clicking Classics on my home page and using the Search Bar enter Vita Mix or tomatoes.  I simply quarter the tomatoes and place them in the machine, skin, seeds and all.  I puree them and strain them to remove the seeds; the skins are incorporated into the puree.  I pour the puree in to freezer safe containers and place them in the refrigerator over night to settle so as to pour off the extra liquid that rises to the top.  I then label them and place them in the freezer or you can make your tomato sauce and freeze it for a quick Italian dinner, which I will be doing tomorrow using the Crock-Pot Tomato Sauce recipe that I am sharing today-as always add or eliminate any ingredient to suit your taste.

 All set to Vita Mix the tomatoes for my tomato sauce.

     Perhaps you would like to try my favorite Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Italian tomato sauce-so easy to prepare, no stirring or watching the pot and dinner can be on the table in no time.  Cooking in a Crock-Pot is like having your own Personal Chef.

  Crock-Pot Italian Tomato Sauce

 ¼ cup olive oil

½ cup onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

(For busy cooks, frozen chopped onion and bottled minced garlic in water is available at your Super Market)

 2 small cans tomato paste

2 tomato paste cans of water

3 teaspoons dry oregano, crushed-or to taste

2 teaspoons dried basil-or to taste

1 bay leaf

1 table spoon (or to taste) Parmesan cheese

1-tablespoon sugar (to neutralize the acid of the tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste 

2 large cans Italian tomatoes with juice

For a chunky sauce use whole tomatoes and for a smoother sauce use chopped or diced

Or

Use 1 can of tomatoes and 1 can tomato puree-I will be using my fresh tomato puree

In a large skillet heat the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic lightly.  Add two cans of tomato paste and two tomato paste cans of water.  Blend well and add the oregano, basil, bay leaf and sugar.  Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring often.

 Place mixture in the Crock-Pot and add remaining ingredients.  Cook on high for 1 hour, turn to low and forget about it for 7 or 8 hours-or if necessary, you set on low until you arrive home and set on high for approximately 15 minutes.  Stir sauce; remove bay leaf and put the water on to boil for the pasta, get out some nice crusty Italian bread, some grated cheese and presto, dinner is served.  For a meat sauce, brown 1-1/2 pounds of ground meat and drain and add to the Crock-Pot with the tomatoes.  Brown Italian sausage and add to the Crock-Pot with the tomatoes.  You can make you favorite meatball recipe and brown them or bake them and add to the Crock-Pot during the last hour of cooking to heat.

 M friend shared some beautiful large zucchini with me and instead of Eggplant Parmesan I made Zucchini Parmesan using my Crock-Pot Tomato Sauce.  I made my tomato puree from the first basket of tomatoes from my garden and a few days latter the bush was over loaded with tomatoes again.  I am delighted because although tomatoes were at first thought to be the forbidden fruits of Eden an were actually called “love apples” and were thought to be inedible. Today, however are herald as being extremely healthy and contain 10 vitamins, the for runner being Vitamin A.  Tomatoes also contain 9 minerals with Potassium with 239 mg. being on top of the list.  Lycopene-the bright red carotene an carotenoid and photochemical- that is found in tomatoes and other red fruit and vegetables has proven to be a powerful antioxidant used to fight many forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease. It has been noted because of the high rates of prostate cancer, men should consume cooked tomatoes (sauce) often because cooking the tomatoes makes the Lycopene easier to absorb.

 Zucchini Parmesan

1 or 2 large zucchini

2 eggs slightly beaten

1-Tablespoon water

1- cup flour (more depending on the amount of zucchini to be breaded)

Panko Italian breadcrumbs

Canola Oil

  Cut zucchini rounds fairly thin and coat with flour; dip in egg and coat with crumbs.  Heat oil in skillet and brown zucchini a few minutes on each side.  Line a tray with paper towels and drain zucchini.  In a baking pan large enough to accommodate the zucchini pour a layer of tomato sauce and add a layer of zucchini, cover with sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a layer of mozzarella cheese.  Continue to layer, ending with the layer of mozzarella cheese.  Bake in a 350 degrees F. oven for approximately 30 minutes. This can be prepared a day before and simply placed in oven to heat and to melt the cheese.  Eggplant is made the same way.

 My zucchini Parmesan ready to be served one evening on my sun porch.

 

Last weekend I had guest for dinner an of course I wanted to make something healthy and in season.  So what else?  Zucchini of course, but not just a side vegetable serving, I wanted it to represent the main course.  I worked up what I thought was a very tasty stuffed zucchini with several diced vegetables from my garden and served it with my version of bruschetta Oh, and for the appetizer I served a Banana Blueberry Creamy Sorbet.  Yep! That is all that it was made of and it was scrumptious.  You can’t get any healthier then that.  I made the sorbet in my Yonanas-love it!  This morning I made a breakfast parfait for my granddaughter and myself-banana, strawberry and peach creamy sorbet with a granola topping.  Soooo Good!  It taste like soft serve ice cream, but it is only fruit. Check it out on Yonanas.com.  Hey, I don’t get compensated for this; I just want to share this healthy suggestion with you.  Also, I buy ripened bananas for pennies and peel them wrap them in foil and freeze them to use in the machine. as any fruit that you use must be frozen.

 My delicious stuffed zucchini 

 

 I made 4 because I had several zucchinis and a few days latter for the second time around I served the zucchini topped with my fresh tomatoes and fresh shredded mozzarella cheese melted under the broiler for a few minutes and instead of bread I served freshly picked corn from the farm up the street. I just felt healthier just looking at the plate.

 

Actually you really do not need a standard recipe to make the stuffed zucchini because there are so many variations, although the steps to make it are similar.  As always, I suggest that you do your own thing and try different ingredients.

 Step 1

Scrap out the seeds and make a shell, not to thin.

 Step 2

Prepare all the ingredients and add to a large bowl-I used sweet Italian sausage with caseins removed and used my processor to finely chop the sausage and sautéed the sausage until lightly browned 

Step 3

I used shredded carrots, diced red peppers, onion, garlic, and zucchini from the scraping and mushrooms.  Added a small amount of olive oil to pan that the sausage was cooked in and sautéed the vegetable lightly and added to the bowl with the sausage.

 Step 4

Mix seasoned dry breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese (optional) and 1 egg slightly beaten to the bowl. Thoroughly combine and stuff the zucchini. 

Step 5

Bake in a 350 degrees oven for approximately 30 minutes.  All the ingredients except for the zucchini are already cooked and the zucchini should be cooked until tender.

 Your can sprinkle the top with shredded Mozzarella cheese and cook until melted.

 My tomato bushes keep producing handfuls of tomatoes, coupled with all the beautiful tomatoes from my daughters and friends-they all know that I will use them before they go bad and yes I did.  I enjoyed the delicious caprese salad ( I love this with a balsamic reduction, but equally as good with a sprinkle of Italian seasoning and a splash of olive oil) with all my Italian dishes and during the month I tried several versions of stuffed tomatoes, which for me are a meal in them self.  Also we all enjoyed the bruschetta that I served with every thing.

 A few days ago I checked my garden and this is what I found.  Today I was shocked to see the number of tomatoes on the bush and how healthy and strong the stems were.  Honestly, I was so busy this summer; I am embarrassed to say that I only fertilized the plants once.

  

Today when I went out to water the garden this is what I found. Both plants are loaded so heavily with fruit that I had to add more stakes to support them.  I am just amazed at the amount of tomatoes that they have produced.  Actually I only have 2 tomato plants that are planted in containers along with 4 pepper plants and 2 containers of parsley and 1 eggplant plant. Included in my garden are my herbs-Egyptian onion, tarragon, rosemary basil, lemon basil, oregano, thyme, lemon thyme, marjoram, variegated sage, purple sage, lovage, chives, garlic chives, spearmint, peppermint, pineapple mint, orange mint, apple mint and a small patch of mesclun. There is nothing quite like watching your garden growing and actually it is quite amazing.

 

CAPRESE SALAD:  fresh large juicy tomatoes sliced in rounds, fresh mozzarella, sliced in rounds, basil and a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic reduction or Italian dressing.

 BRUSCHETTA:  a simple mixture of chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped olives, basil and chopped garlic over olive oiled brushed slices of a baguette or rustic bread.  I like to sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top and broil until melted.  I don’t toast the bread first, but some do.

I have so many wonderful tasty stuffed tomato recipes to share, so it was very difficult for me to decide which to use for today’s update.  However, always one of my favorite no cook easy recipe is tomato cups stuffed with tuna salad.  Simply cut tomato in half and hollow out.  Prepare a tasty tuna salad-I usually add diced pickles or sweet pickle relish, sprinkle of onion powder and ground black pepper.  To bind together I mix light mayonnaise and non-fat sour cream or yogurt. I stuff the tomato and chill until serving.

 For the kids you can stuff he tomato with macaroni and cheese.  You can use your own or simple use boxed varieties like Kraft or Annie’s. Actually they are acceptable food and contain real cheese and let’s face it “The kids love it.”

As long as we are talking tuna, and why not, because tuna can count as one of our two fish a week dinners suggested by health experts, you may want to try this next recipe.

 Tuna Topped Tomatoes

 4 large tomatoes cut horizontally in halves

½ cup Heart Smart Bisquick baking mix

½ cup of shredded cheese-I have used cheddar, Swiss, American

¼ cup light mayonnaise

1 whole egg and 2 egg whites

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 package frozen broccoli, thawed and drained Spray a square pan that will accommodate the tomatoes and place them cup side up in pan.  Mix remaining ingredients and spread evenly on cut side of each tomato half.  Bake in a 350 degrees F. oven uncovered untitopping is puffed and golden brown about 25 minutes.

 Last evening after writing about my garden and some of the tasty dishes that I made during the week using all of the fresh vegetables I actually was craving one of my Mesclun salads. Although we were experiencing a sudden downpour, which we desperately needed, I donned my hooded rain jacket and boots and with a flash light in hand went outside in my garden and picked a hand full of Mesclun (field lettuce) and a few plum tomatoes for the salad I would make.  I added sliced apple, mandarin oranges, walnuts, feta cheese and raisins and dressed it with a raspberry vinaigrette and topped it with a freshly picked Nasturium from my garden-Nasturiums are edible flowers that have a peppery taste. The salad was so delicious and went great with the Manhattan clam chowder that a friend made.

 

 My yummy mesclun salad 

Always check my blog and Members Only Blog for additional healthy recipes. Not a member simply sign up below, it is free and only means that you will receive an e-mail when HealthyCookingForToday.com is updated and you will have access to the Members Only Blog.  IT IS FREE.

 Also readers of HealthyCookingForToday.com can share photos of their cooking and baking creation or craft and decorating ideas-along with their recipes or directions if they want to share-  send using my contact information and they will be featured in my Creative Corner and will also be featured on Google for non-readers searches.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: