Fresh Summer Salsa

28 Jul

The flavors of summer are ripe, juicy and bursting with colors. This season gives us sweet treats with fresh aromatic melon, juicy berries, and gorgeous tree ripened peaches. And we can’t overlook the herbs exploding in our gardens. Need a new way to enjoy the essence of sunny days and warm breezy nights? Summer salsa here we come!

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Look at this versatile summer fruit salsa!

Need some ideas as to what to do with this summer treat? This fruity delight is delicious with a spicy grilled tenderloin. Or on top of shrimp tacos. Or along side juicy chicken thighs.

Oh…you want it for an appetizer? You can do that too. This salsa is just as great with crisp yellow corn chips. It is a can’t miss with some baked brie cheese in puff pastry. The possibilities are endless!

Want more choices, more flexibility? This salsa recipe offers plenty. It’s bold flavor lends itself to endless substitutions to customize anything seasonal. This salsa is yummy with cilantro, but if your herb garden is overflowing with fragrant  rosemary or leafy basil, add that in place of the cilantro. Got blueberries? Toss those in with or in place of something else. Any firm fruit will do.

But first, lets start with the basic recipe. Where you go from there is up to you.

Begin by chopping your cantaloupe and peaches. Add them to a large bowl. Don’t crowd the ingredients as you will have more to add and a little stirring to do.

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Chop up some cantaloupe and peaches. Side bar-if you have a little leftover, sprinkle it with some bleu cheese and enjoy!

Add some luscious summer blackberries.

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Just look at those gorgeous colors!

Now it is time to jazz up the works a bit. Add in your cilantro and finely chopped onions. Give that all a good gentle stir. You are going to love how these flavors work together.

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A little salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lime, another good stir and your summer salsa is ready! This gets better over time so make it ahead of when it will be served and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. See the full recipe below.

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Amy’s Fresh Summer Salsa

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cantaloupe or 1 cup each canteloupe and honey dew melon
  • 2 ripe peaches, chopped
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion or thinly sliced scallions including green top
  • 1/2 bunch chopped fresh cilantro (may substitute basil)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 lime cut in half
  • 1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients together and gently stir. Refrigerate until use.

Secret Ingredient-splash 1 or 2 tablespoons over tequila on the salsa. Then serve with margaritas and fish tacos! Be sure to let me know how your salsa turns out and what you love about it!

Pimiento Perfection!

5 May

Pimiento Cheese. I’d never heard of it till a vacation in Florida. It was there, on Marco Island at age twenty something, that I first tasted the savory deliciousness that was pimiento cheese. It was good. Really good.

It was store bought. And come to find out my grocer at home didn’t carry it. Longing for that flavor of vacation, I decided to make it from scratch. I started with a recipe. Over the years I have added my own twists and flavors. Now I’m hooked. You will be too.

Grab your box grater and let’s toss this together. It is super easy to make. In my fridge I had some smokey gouda cheese but only about 3 ounces, so I also grabbed a hunk of cheddar. That is part of the beauty of this recipe-you can really customize it to your taste and what you have on hand.

Besides the cheese, I also pulled out mayonnaise and a jar of pimentos. A dash of vinegar will give the cheese a punch. Next I got a big mixing bowl out and start grating.

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I put the freshly grated cheese into the mixing bowl. It was large enough to do some robust mixing.

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Next I simply add some mayonnaise, the drained jar of pimiento, and a dash of vinegar. And, of course, a little salt and pepper too. Some folks like to use some cottage cheese with their mayo, and others opt for a little sour cream.

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Then I blend, fold and scrape my way to a lovely delicious mixture.

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When you make it, put this in the fridge for a bit before digging in. That way the flavors have time come together and balance out. If you are feeling a bit sassy,  add some diced jalapeño peppers. The heat that the peppers bring to this delectable treat is heavenly.

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That is all there is to it. Get ready for some major YUM!

PIMIENTO CHEESE RECIPE

  • 8 ounces cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 jar chopped pimiento, drained
  • 1 T. vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl. Refrigerate until use. Spread on crackers or celery.

By the way, if you have some pimiento cheese left tomorrow, use it to make an out of this world grilled cheese sandwich!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Leftover Soup

20 Mar

If you had any leftover soup, its perfect for a step saver dinner tonight. Lets review the soup blog super quick, then we will move on to leftovers. Below is the link to the original blog.

https://busymomswellness.com/2019/03/02/its-still-soup-season

Now lets talk leftovers! This is where we left off with our Tomato Basil Soup. Not only was this soup delicious, the scents wafting about are so memorable that you want more.

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Feel free to simply enjoy this soup again as is. Want to jazz it up? Heat the soup, and then toss in some other flavorful seasonings. Savory oregano would be wonderful, and so would some fragrant rosemary. You can also easily add a little cream to change the flavor profile a bit. Adding cream is also a budget friendly way to stretch your soup. Just whisk it in and enjoy!

To make this soup into more of a wholesome meal, grill up a sandwich to go along with it.

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Need another leftover idea? Cook up some tortellini-or any pasta of choice-and use the soup as a pasta sauce.

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Need another option? Take some frozen shrimp out of the freezer. Heat up your soup, throw in some chopped green pepper, diced tomatoes, and a can of drained quartered artichoke hearts. Add the shrimp, heat through, and enjoy a delicious gumbo. Have it as is or spoon it on top of a bowl of steaming hot rice. Don’t forget the hot sauce!

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You can even use your leftovers to make more leftovers. Take frozen stuffed shells, lay them in a dish, cover with the soup, and top with some mozzarella cheese. Pop in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes and enjoy. Not only will this make a great dinner, you can take the leftovers to the office tomorrow for a quick lunch. You will be the envy of everyone in the break room for sure!

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So how is that for options? Pretty cool! What are you making with your leftover soup?

 

Link

It’s (Still) Soup Season!

2 Mar

Step up kids. It’s time to get the soup on. Lets do this! Today we are putting together some tomato basil soup. We will also toss in a couple of roasted red peppers for a special touch. Tonight we have soup, tomorrow we use leftovers for a sauce. But first things first. On to the soup.

To get things going let’s start with flavorful mire poix. What is that you ask? It is a combination of vegetables that are gently cooked. A mire poix is a great base on which to start layering your flavors. I diced up some green onions, celery and some carrots. I also diced some garlic, but that needs to be added in later. First things first.

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Its okay to give these veggies a rough chop. We will smooth this out in a bit. Get your big soup pot out and heating up over a medium heat. After it warms up for a few minutes add some good quality olive oil.

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When your oil is heated up toss your veggies into the pot-but hold off on that garlic for a bit-it burns easily so we will ease that into our soup later.

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Give the vegetables a good stir. Add salt and pepper. I like to have a salt and pepper mix close by when cooking.

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The vegetables will soften and become fragrant. Let them cook for 4-5 minutes and then add the garlic. (Garlic is lovely when roasted but when it burns-well not so much, so it needs to be added right before the tomatoes). Keep stirring gently, and let the garlic cook for about 2 minutes. Now we will add good Italian tomatoes and some roasted red peppers.

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Add the entire contents of the tomatoes to the vegetables in the soup pot. With the peppers, take them out of the oil before adding to the vegetables.

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Keep the heat at medium, stir this all up, and enjoy seeing this bubbling goodness come together. The fragrance filling your kitchen will give you a reason to stand there and do some deep breathing. Yum. Let this simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring every so often. Then get ready to add another layer of flavor to your soup.

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Now we add the chicken broth. If this will be a vegetarian soup, feel free to add vegetable stock instead. The soup will delectable either way. Also add parsley and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. I like a little heat, so I also add red pepper flakes, but that is optional. The winter soup delight is coming together perfectly.

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Time to add the basil. I grow basil in my summer herb garden, but since it is winter I bought some. Fresh basil is worth it in this soup so get it fresh if you can.

 

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Pull the leaves gently off of the stalks and give them a rough chop. We will use an immersion blender to cream the soup later, so don’t worry about your knife skills. Add the basil to the soup and stir.

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Grab your immersion blender. Don’t have one? Invest in one. I use mine for everything from smoothies to vinaigrette to soups and sauces. This kitchen tool is essential. Put your immersion wand into the soup and blend away. Be mindful of the hot soup and do not allow it to splatter.

You can also put the soup in the blender to smooth out, but be very cautious, go slowly and do it in batches to avoid burns and accidents. I using a blender pour the soup back into the pot. Let the soup simmer while you get your soup bowls out. Fill your bowl up, garnish with fresh parmesan cheese and basil, then get ready for tasty greatness.

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Keep your eye out for my next blog. We will explore ways to use your leftover soup-if you have any!

Oscar Glam

23 Feb

Need a glamorous appetizer for your Oscar Party? Then this show stopper will be on your list. If you have a little time to fuss over making this jam, it is worth it. Have a glass of your favorite Cab ready to go along side this dish and celebrate a win!

Grab a heavy saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of high quality butter, put the heat on low, and lets get started.

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Next, you need one or two vidalia sweet onions and thinly slice them. I like a mandolin to do this job. It is quick, easy, and you’ll get through cutting the onions without shedding a single tear.

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Now toss the onions into the sizzling butter. Add a bit of sugar, salt, red pepper and black pepper.

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Give that fragrant deliciousness a good stir. Now this is when a little patience comes in handy. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan, and let those onions get golden.

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While the onions are cooking away, its time to get ready for the next step. We will be adding dried fruit, sun dried tomatoes, 1/2 cup of white wine and some rich balsamic vinegar to the onion mixture.

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I used figs this time because I had them on hand, but I have also used dried cherries (my favorite!) and dried cranberries. This recipe is wonderful to customize to your taste. Chop the dried fruit and tomatoes. I used about 5-6 of each.

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After about a half hour its time to take the lid off the sauce pan and let the wonderful sweet fragrance of the onions pleasure your senses. Mmmmmm. After you take that deep breath in, add the tomatoes, fruit, balsamic vinegar and wine. Stir that all together.

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Leave the lid off and let that simmer down. All of the wine will cook off and the onion jam will thicken. When that happens, remove it from the heat and let it cool a bit.

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Get some crackers and some lovely bread ready to nosh. There is one last ingredient to add-bleu cheese. Layer that jam onto a cracker, top it off with bleu cheese and prepare to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Appetizer! Let the show begin!

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What’s for (a diabetic) Dinner?

9 Feb

My folks are coming for dinner. They are 81 years old and my dad is diabetic. If you think trying to get a 4 year old to eat anything other than chicken nuggets is challenging, try teaching an 81 year old how to eat a low carb diabetic friendly diet. Not an easy task. But salmon is on the menu so the meal will be both diabetic compliant and heart healthy.

My mom, a wonderful cook, never made any type of fish, so this was an out of the box meal for my parents. Here is what I used for the salmon-olive oil, sea salt, my favorite mixture of pepper and garlic, a bit of salmon rub, and a lemon.

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I started with lovely Norwegian salmon. A note about salmon-the colder the water in which the salmon is from the more beneficial fat (Omega-3’s) the salmon will have. I cut it into just the right portion size. The salmon is beautifully veined with healthy fat.

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Next I drizzled a bit of olive oil over the salmon and jazzed it up with the seasonings. It needed a slice of lemon-cuz lemon just goes with salmon!

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The oven was preheated to 350 degrees. For salmon, moderate heat for about 20 minutes will cook 4-6 ounce fillets just right. My sweet mother was a willing student while she monitored my culinary efforts-but insisted on a tiny splash of wine while she learned!

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Time to work on a diabetes friendly side dish. How about grape tomatoes and spiraled zucchini? Yup-that’s next.

Put a little olive oil into a sauce pan. Let it warm up a bit, then add a pint or two of grape tomatoes. It’s that simple. Just throw them in and give them a stir. Don’t forget to add a bit of salt and pepper. Let them start to bubble a bit over medium to medium high heat. Stir them every now and again. After a few minutes they will start to break up and get creamy.

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When the tomatoes are luscious and velvety add the zucchini noodles. I have a zucchini spiralizer, but using it for this dinner may have been a bit too much excitement for my folks. I used the time saving precut zucchini noodles instead.

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The zucchini went into the steamy bubbling tomatoes. Add some basil, oregano and parsley or whatever strikes your fancy. A pinch of salt and pepper brings out the flavor, so don’t forget to toss that in too.  I also added 1 chopped clove of garlic.  A bit of garlic never hurt anything.

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A little stir and this was on its way to deliciousness! The warm scents of herbs and vegetables were filling the house. Mmmmm. The zucchini heated through in about 5 minutes, the salmon was out of the oven, and dinner was ready!

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I jazzed up the vegetables by grating a bit of fresh parmesan cheese on them while hot. The filet of salmon with this side dish was so yummy. Take note-this meal is a low carb meal. It’s a great meal if you are on a keto diet or if you have diabetes. I am a low carb eater, so this meal hit the mark for all the beloved folks around my dining room table.

Initially my folks weren’t crazy about what was cooking for dinner. My mom is a 50’s housewife that can bang out an amazing pot roast and mashed potatoes with one hand tied behind her back, and my dad is 100% a meat, potatoes, and corn guy. Yup-heavy on the starch, which is not cutting it anymore with his diabetes. Needless to say this new fangled meal I was cooking up for them was raising an eyebrow or two. I think that they were also secretly wishing they’d had a big snack before coming for dinner. In the end the meal plated up beautifully, was hearty, and enjoyed by all. What are you cooking up? email me at amykgarman@gmail.com on twitter @amykgarman or on instagram at amyklingele

 

 

 

Girls Can Grill Part II

29 Oct

As I said in my last blog, girls can grill. Very well. With style and creativity. Besides amazing flavors, grilling does not heat up the kitchen or leave tons of dishes behind. How about trying easy meal of grilled chicken with roasted carrots on the grill? Here’s how!

First, prepare your grill. I fired mine up and then gave it a good cleaning with a wire brush.

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Carrots, like most root vegetables, take longer to cook than chicken so prepare those first. I had 2 pounds of sweet baby carrots to cook. I first spread them out on paper towels to dry a bit. Less moisture means the carrots will cook up with more sizzle.

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After your carrots are nice and dry, give them a drizzle of good olive oil and a dusting of salt and pepper.

 

 

Making foil packets for the carrots means easy cooking and no dishes. I made 2 packets so the carrots wouldn’t be crowded. You want to seal your packets up good and tight.

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After the carrots are seasoned just right and sealed up, put them on the grill. Make sure the grill is preheated for around 20 minutes at about 350 degrees. Put those carrots on and forget about them while you tend to the chicken.

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It’s time for a homemade marinade to help make the chicken more savory and tender. Creating  a marinade at home is so easy, and a great way to control salt and sugar. Store bought marinades are loaded with hidden ingredients that aren’t healthy. Doing this yourself is a great way to customize the flavors of your food and keep it clean. Ready to try a simple marinade?

Here we go. Toss together dijon mustard, olive oil, a bit of rosemary, sea salt, freshly ground red and black pepper, and the juice from one grapefruit. Grate some of that lovely grapefruit rind into the marinade with a handy zester (a kitchen tool that is indispensable).  Adding some rind increases intense flavor and beneficial oils to the marinade. Bonus-not only will the chicken be delectable, the kitchen will be bursting with crisp citrus fragrance after grating some of that beautiful rind.

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Add the ingredients for the marinade to a large zip lock bag, toss the chicken in, zip it up and put this in the fridge for a bit. Because of the acid in the grapefruit juice, the marinade can easily so it’s job in about 20 minutes. The carrots have had a head start, and now it’s time for the chicken to go onto the grill.

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The chicken needs the hottest part of the grill so the carrots can go up one level. Close the lid and let the chicken cook. Turn them after about 10 minutes, close the lid again, and let them finish.

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The chicken is almost done. Time for a peek at those carrots. A little look lets us know that they had cooked up beautifully and had a tinge of sweet brown color on them. A little taste was a delicious reward! Dinner was almost ready.

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I brought everything inside. The chicken was on a plate with a few pats of butter on the top for perfect resting. The butter would assure that the finished chicken would be flavorful and moist. I covered the chicken with foil and let it rest and relax a bit. Leftover quinoa quickly reheated easily rounded out the meal quite well.

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Go ahead. What are you waiting for? Get grilling! Let me know whats cooking at twitter

@amykgarman or on instagram at amyjoyblog

 

 

 

 

 

Girls can Grill!

27 Aug

 

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Girls can grill. And very well I might add. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Many folks think that grilling is a guy thing. I beg to differ! Not only do I grill a lot, so does my sister.

As is true for most things, my sister and I have very different (read opposite) methodology and philosophy in life. It is something we marvel over. It truly delights us. Raised by the same parents in the same house going to the same schools and having the same brothers, we couldn’t be more different. And we love it. Predictably, same goes for our grilling.

My sister and I conflict (agreeably) with one another on grilling techniques even when making the same thing. For ease and timeliness (I live in a perpetual state of whirling dervish mode…) I use a gas grill. It’s quick to start, temperature management is a no brainer, and it is easy to clean.

So while I go to my gas grill for speed and control, my sister goes full on charcoal grill. I say that with envy. She has WAY more patience than I do when it comes to the finesse of grilling, and she can really rock the charcoal grill.

On to the brats!  They are a grilling favorite. Let’s compare and contrast, shall we? I start cooking my brats in beer and onions on the stovetop. A bit ordinary but the outcome is delish. My sister, on the other hand, starts hers on the grill. With beer. And onions. And buttuh!  Nothing ordinary about that!

 

When the brats are cooked through and have beer and onion deliciousness wrapped around them, they go onto the grill. A gas grill for me-charcoal for my sister. She usually tosses some good hot dogs on a s well. Hey-we are german, so why not load up on the sausages! Look at those grill marks!

 

On to finishing the grilled brats. Again my sister and I express core philosophical brat differences. We disagree on sauerkraut, but we also differ with our buns and mustard, My buns are lightly toasted, hers are not. And my mustard is yellow. Hers is dijon. And she loads those succulent tender onions on her brats as well.

 

My sweet Denis sides with my sister here (in homage to family peace). He is all about the dijon mustard with his brats. But not me. Out of sheer pride I won’t even entertain a dijon mustard option here.

So here you have it. A grilling story.  With very different techniques-but all with great outcomes. So gals, go get a grill and fire it up. Let me know what you are grilling and remember, girls can grill!

 

Sweet Summer Tomatoes

22 Jul

Oh the bounty of a summer garden! Yummy fresh tomatoes are bursting off the vine this time of year. Don’t have garden? Ramble through the local farmers market and snap up some delicious cherry tomatoes. They are fresh, sweet, and oh so versatile! Not sure what to do? Well keep reading.

Friends just came by and an impromptu summer patio party is underway. Need a quick appetizer? Take those cherry tomatoes, put a small dish of vodka spiked with horseradish beside them, and place a shaker of celery salt there too. Get the toothpicks and Voila! A fun light Bloody Mary appetizer is ready in an instant. Put a cherry tomato on the toothpick, dip it into the vodka, shake a little celery salt on it, and pop it into your mouth. The bite begins with a delicious pop of tomato, then the other flavors flow over your tongue. Yummers!

Want something a little more succulent? Put some olive oil into a pan and heat it up. Add the tomatoes to the hot pan and give it a shake of salt, pepper, and stir.

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Let those cook for a bit, and they will begin to get creamy!

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Be patient and let those cook a bit longer, stirring every so often. Now you can add a clove of garlic that is diced. You will be rewarded-but what is next?  Is this a base on which to jump off, or is this IT? If this is IT, scoop in on a lovely piece of chicken and enjoy. Want to go a different direction with this? Okay-lets go!

You can add this to sautéed summer squash.

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Or you can toss it on some squash that has been through the vegetable twirler and enjoy a light vegetarian main “pasta” dish. Play with herbs a bit before adding to pasta, perhaps adding some fresh summer basil and parsley. Red pepper flakes would also be a well paired addition.

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Ready for another option? Start with colored tomatoes and cook the same way.

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After these beauties get good and velvety, add some spinach, arugula, or fresh green of your choice. Let that cook together.

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Oooohhhh! We are on the train to delicious town! Add some chicken or vegetable stock, stir, and add some pasta.

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This will cook down to an amazing one pot dish. Want to add some shrimp too? Go ahead! This is your time to have fun and personalize this luscious summer meal into something your family will love. Oh, you are cooking for one? Keep cooking! You will be the envy of the office with these leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Let me know what you are doing with your summer tomatoes. Follow me on twitter @amykgarman

 

Onion Jam

15 Jul

Love onions? Not sure what to do with sun-dried tomatoes? Crazy about dried fruit? Then this appetizer will be on your must try list. If you have a little time to fuss over making this jam, it is worth it. Don’t be shy-have a glass of your favorite Cab to go along side this dish and really make the flavors pop!

Grab a heavy saucepan, toss in 2 tablespoons of high quality butter, put the heat on low, and lets get started.

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First grab one or two Vidalia sweet onions and thinly slice. I like a mandolin to do this job. It is quick, easy, and you’ll get through cutting the onions without shedding a single tear.

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Now toss the onions into the sizzling butter. Add a bit of sugar, salt, red pepper and black pepper.

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Give that fragrant deliciousness a good stir. Now this is when a little patience comes in handy. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan, and let those onions get golden.

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While that is cooking away, its time to get ready for the next step. We will be adding dried fruit, sun dried tomatoes, 1/2 cup of white wine and some rich balsamic vinegar to the onion mixture.

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I used figs this time because I had them on hand, but I have also used dried cherries (my favorite!) and dried cranberries. Chop the dried fruit and tomatoes. I used about 5-6 of each.

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After about a half hour its time to take the lid off the sauce pan and let the wonderful sweet fragrance of the onions pleasure your senses. Mmmmmm. After you take that deep breath in, add the tomatoes, fruit, balsamic vinegar and wine. Stir that all together.

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Leave the lid off and let that simmer down. All of the wine will cook off and the onion jam will thicken. When that happens, remove it from the heat and let it cool a bit. Get some crackers and some lovely bread ready to nosh. There is one last ingredient to add-bleu cheese. Pour some wine, grab your honey, turn some great jazz on, and enjoy!

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