31 August 2014

Skillet Unstuffed Peppers

Got peppers?

Here's a great green bell pepper recipe.
Most gardeners have a ton of them this time of year.
Hopefully you:
a)  Are a gardener with lots of green bell pepeprs
b) Know a gardener with lots of green bell peppers
and can be the happy recipient of their surplus.

This is another family favorite.  
Fast, fresh and fairly healthy.

I do think the key to this being so yummy is using 
a great rice blend.  I don't have the package to show 
you but it's one of the "Rice Select" Royal Blends
and it comes in a big, clear plastic canister.
Among other things, it has wild rice and wheat...
which has me thinking it's labeled something
real witty and catchy like..."Wild Rice Blend."

Here's my stash in my uber-organized pantry.
Fyi, that's a 2-qt jar.
(Right next to the pinto beans--a new garden item of which I'm pretty proud.)
Definitely the yummiest rice blend out there.
But it does take longer to cook so bear that in 
mind for this recipe because it's wicked-fast
other than that.

If you know you're going to be in a hurry,
I would suggest doing all of your slicing and dicing
in advance, keeping the ingredients in the refrigerator.
I suppose you could even make the rice ahead
of time and just warm it back up.

Okay.  Let's get started.  Boil that rice with a little salt.

Seed and chop 2 green bell peppers.
Chop, chop.  In big ol' easy-to-do chunks.

Slice 1 lb of mushrooms.  
Or just buy them pre-sliced.

Cut up a big red onion in little wedges.

Here the recipe calls for 1 lb Italian Sausage links
and then tells you to remove the casings 
so you can chop the sausage up.
Why don't they just call for 1 lb ground Italian Sausage?
Whatever.  You pick.  I know what I'd do.

Brown your Italian sausage in a little olive oil.
Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and 
set aside in a dish.

Next lightly saute' peppers for a minute or
two.  Add onions and saute another minute or so.

Now let's give the mushrooms a go at it.
(We like our veggies fairly crisp; adjust times according to your tastes.)

Next, add in cooked sausage and cooked rice.

Salt if desired but usually the sausage provides 
enough of that; I do recommend fresh-ground pepper.
You're done!

Unstuffed Peppers
Rachael Ray Magazine

1 c long grain rice or rice mix of choice
1 T olive oil
1 lb Italian sausages, casings removed
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 lb white mushrooms, sliced
1 red onion, chopped

Cook rice according to directions with 1/2 t salt.
Brown sausage in olive oil in a large skillet.
Remove sausage with slotted spoon; set aside in
a bowl.  Saute' green peppers for 2 mins.
Add in onions; saute' another 2 mins.
Add in mushrooms; saute all veggies together
till desired "doneness".
Stir in sausage and rice; heat through and serve.
Salt and freshly-ground pepper if desired.

30 August 2014

A Pepper Preparedness Party

Taking a break from the peaches and
heading back to the garden to see
what else is growing in abundance.

Hola, peppers!
(That's as far as my Spanish goes.  I don't even know if I spelled that right.)
Definitely in abundance, yet not very big
this year.  Odd, but hey, no complaints.

I spent Wednesday morning putting up peppers.
(Why do we say "putting up"?)
JalapeƱos, green chilies, green chilies that had
ripened to red (and therefore became hotter)
and bell peppers:  red, yellow and green.

This weekend we'll be pulling out the smoker to
make chipotles out of the red jalapeƱos.
And I still have some poblanos to work on.
That's another new crop for me so I'm open
to suggestions there.

I'm really excited to be getting all of this pepper-ing
out of the way.  Typically at this time of year, 
I'm still cooking away with peppers, popping them into
our meals while they're fresh; 
I normally don't tap into my inner-squirrel for 
pepper-ing until the threat of frost comes around.

This blender/processor/smoothie-maker is put
to use on a daily basis.  I love it!

However, my kitchen will soon be off-limits so 
I'm staying way ahead of the game this year.
Have I not mentioned this?  
It's time for my 1988 kitchen to go away.
It just doesn't work well for one who is in 
there as much as I am.  

The cabinets are currently being built.
I've already purchased all new 
appliances, including a double-oven, a warming
drawer and a cooktop with 5--FIVE!--burners.
Oh, and a ridiculously expensive apron-front
farm sink.  I insisted.  Single-bowl.
I stole a pic from the site:

Isn't it beautiful?  
I have dreams of it filled with produce.

Should be fun to watch the progress so I'll
be letting you follow along on here.
We're a good month away so...back to the peppers.

This picture hurts my eyes.

Mostly I just dice them in the food processor 
and freeze, especially the green chilies.
Pretty big chili fans around here and we love
the flavor that the green chilies bring to it.
(By the way, the little snack-size baggies hold the perfect amount for many
recipes.  Because they aren't freezer bags, though, I just put them together 
inside a larger freezer bag.  I use these peppers quickly so there really is
no need to waste the vacuum bags on them.)

Lots of chowders and soups call for 
diced red bell peppers.

And I have recipes that call for roasted bell peppers. 
I can't see why it won't freeze well that way,
so I saved myself a step and roasted them first.

I froze these in little snack baggies, too, and then 
put them into quart-sized freezer bags.

I also saved myself time, energy/resources and dishes 
doing them all at once.  I'll try to remember to update
you on that when I go to use them.

I also froze some in strips for fajitas.

All of this took me about 3 hours, flash-freezing
time included.  This was definitely not one of my
bigger "pepper parties" but I feel like it's a great
start.  And if that's all I get done, well...that
will just be enough.

I'm all about pepper-preparedness, apparently.
You do realize that the more preparing one does now,
the more time one has for quilting later.
(I actually pulled a "to be quilted" out of the closet on Wednesday...but it 
just felt too hot to be working on it.  A lot like it's too hot to be serving 
Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Starbucks!  Anyway, we'll call that a start--a 
step in the right direction.  Now bring on the cool weather!)

Why, of course I have pepper recipes coming!

Healthy Peach-Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast--Make Ahead!

Lots of posts these days, huh?
I guess I've just been so busy in the kitchen that
it becomes pretty important that I 
take some time to get off my feet.

I will admit to doing some of this, too.  Didn't get much
time for it all summer but now that the kids are back 
in school, I've been trying to get some color before
the fall weather kicks in.  You'll notice there is no one
else there.  I go early for just this reason!

And I've been doing a LOT of reading.
One of these days I want to add in book reviews.
Any avid readers out there? 
Did you find any good summer reads?

I know I keep posting this picture but I think it's really pretty!

Today's peach recipe is a real winner. 
If you've got a hectic morning routine, listen up
because you can do most of the work the night before.
And guess what?  It's healthy too!  

 Peach-Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Casserole 
2 c rolled oats 
1/3 c brown sugar 
1 t baking powder 
1 t cinnamon 
1/4 t nutmeg (opt)
1/4 t salt 
1 c walnut pieces (or pecans)
1 c blueberries 
2 c milk 
1 large egg, beaten
3 T butter, melted 
1 T vanilla 
1 ripe peach, pitted and chopped
1 ripe banana, peeled, 1/2-inch slices 

The night before:  Generously spray a 9X13 glass baking dish (best if it has a lid).  In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt.  Toss in half the blueberries and nuts.  Pour into prepared dish.  Top with remaining berries and nuts.  Cover and place in refrigerator.   To save on dishes, I like to do this next part in a quart jar.  Melt butter in jar in microwave.   Add milk (when you add the cold milk, the butter will harden.  Just swirl it around right away so the particles stay as small as possible.), beaten egg and vanilla.  Put lid on jar and place in refrigerator as well.  Go to sleep and dream happy dreams of yummy breakfast...but set your alarm to get up in time to put this in the oven!

The next morning [insert happily-chirping birds here]:  Remove casserole and jar from fridge.  Cut up banana OR peach (though I suppose you could do both?  Or try other fruits, even--this is flexible) and spread over top of oatmeal mixture.  Lightly shake jar; pour liquid contents over oatmeal mixture, making sure it soaks in thoroughly.  You can give it a gentle shake or even move it around with a fork to make sure.  

Place dish in oven and THEN turn on to 375'.  I just don't think it's wise to put an ice-cold glass dish into a pre-heated oven!  Then you can go off and take your shower while it bakes about 20 minutes or so--till milk is soaked up and oatmeal set--but do not over-bake as it can dry out.  Sorry to be vague about the time but the original recipe used a smaller dish and baked longer.  Who wants that on a busy morning?  So I spread it out in a bigger pan so it'll bake faster.  You can top this with syrup if you like but it doesn't really need it.


Linking to:
Keeping It Simple

29 August 2014

Peach Butter and Bourbon Vanilla Bean Peach Jam

More peachy recipe reviews today:

Striving for simple and healthy, I made
several batches of peach butter.

I make a lot of yogurt and I like to have fruit to blend into it.
Pinterest gave me some great ideas for peach butter,
which is just like apple butter, by the way.

There is no real recipe here.
You can make it on the stove or in the crockpot 
(leaving the lid ajar as you want to reduce liquid)
and you can add spices (such as cinnamon or nutmeg)
and/or vanilla bean.
 (scrape out the beans into the "butter"; 
the pods go in as well but remove before canning)

For yogurt I prefer to leave the spices out and
just add the vanilla and some sugar to taste.  
Cook it down till it thickens and can. 
(water bath for 10 minutes, a little more if you're like me)
Everything I came across said it could be canned but
I was a little concerned so I added some lemon
juice for acidity just in case.

Bearing that in mind, I also put a big batch 
into the freezer as well.

Now, how about that bourbon-vanilla peach jam?
Wouldn't that make a good little gift for a guy?

I love me some vanilla bean!

I lost my recipe so I had to try out a couple new ones.
I like this one from Yummly best.
It calls for a whole 1/2 c of bourbon.
And I used the good stuff--worth it.
Just don't tell my hubs.

I have one more peach recipe to
share but I'll save that for next time.

Grilled Peaches

Have you ever tried grilled peaches?
What a treat!
And there's no recipe really--
just some quick instruction.

Whip up a small amount (1/3 c?) of fresh whipping cream, slowly adding sugar (1 T?), till stiff peaks form.  Set aside.

Halve and pit peaches.  Grill face-down over 
medium flame for about 4 to 5 minutes; turn about 
90 degrees and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. 
(This makes the cool cross-hatches and dubs you "Oh Great Grill Master"!)
You'll actually want them more charred than I have
them in the picture.  Charred = yummy.

While grilling, melt about 2 T butter and 2 T honey
in a small pan.  Don't measure--just guess.
Throw in about a 1/2 t cinnamon and a good 
pinch of nutmeg, stirring to combine well. 
(Nutmeg is my favorite spice--I just thought you might want to know that.)
Hey, Grill Master!
Don't forget to go rotate the peaches.

If you've got one of these hanging around in your kitchen,
pour the sauce into it. 
(I have a few on hand for making impressive food presentations.
Yes, cuz I'm that much of a foodie nerd.)
  If you don't [sigh], you can make do with a spoon.

The minute those peaches are done, place two halves
on each plate and drizzle sauce over everything.
Garnish with a mint leaf and, if you're like me, 
snap a picture fast because the peaches are hot
and that whipped cream is going to slide.  
This is good to know if you're serving to guests, too.  
Unless you don't mind handing them a lop-sided display, 
you may want to do the assembly right at the table.
Then again, if you're feeding some hungry men,
they won't care about your silly presentation...

Just fyi, using these estimated amounts,
I've been making three peaches/servings.

What a great, and simple, way to serve up
nature's freshness!

28 August 2014

Perfectly Peachy

We've had so much produce from the garden
why not throw in some fruit from the orchard, too?

With the elements and pests around here, we
never quite know what the orchard will provide.  

Our one remaining peach tree 
surprised me greatly last week when
I discovered all of these!

Two big bushel baskets I picked
from that one little tree!

We're chemical-free in the orchard so I was 
even more surprised to find how beautifully they 
turned out!  Not one single sign of pests.

Perfect I'm telling you!
Is there no end to the blessings this year!?!
I even giggled out loud while I picked.
Well, till the wasps showed up.
I left that area for the hubs to reach.

So, of course I've been trying to come up with
creative ways to use them.  Anything besides jelly.
We already have enough jelly for an army.
Not joking.
(I'm looking for creative ways to cook with jelly, too.
Got any somewhat-healthy ideas?)
And then I made some jelly anyway.

(Actually, I think this might be the Italian Tomatoes.
It all kind of blends after a while!)

I've now made it through the majority of the peaches.
I'd like to freeze what's left for smoothies but at this
point in the season, freezer space is really limited.
And I still have peppers and pumpkins to go!

What a crazy year!
I joke that it would almost seem that my mom would 
have had a hand in all of this except that she would never 
wished all this work on me.  
She knew that I've always enjoyed it but she also knew
too well that I have a tendency to not know when 
it was time to say "enough!"

Stay tuned for the peach recipes.

Linking to:

27 August 2014

Best Tomato Tart Recipe

Of the tart recipes I've tried,
this one is, hands-down, the best.

Thank you, Pioneer Woman!

If you recall from yesterday, we've been
very blessed with tomatoes this summer.

When Ree posted this on 
Facebook the other day, I was all over it.
Like, by that evening.

My suggestion:
Make your own pie crust!!!
I totally rocked these, and I put them
in scalloped tart pans--the ones with
removable bases.  

I don't put myself up there
with the Pioneer Woman but, I have to say,
I kinda think these turned out prettier than 
her rectangular ones.  Just sayin'.
Don't hate me.

Basically, you have a layer of cheeses, topped
with caramelized onions--and let me stop there.
There are some cooking...uh...things (?) that I 
find very therapeutic.
1)  Making crepes
2)  Roasting and peeling peppers
3)  Caramelizing onions
4)  Making homemade pudding
Ok, I'll stop there.  I have more but, back to the tart.

top the caramelized onions with cherry tomatoes--
because from one cherry tomato plant comes
a million of the little orbs and you're needing
to avoid a compete take-over.

After you pop it into the oven, go pick some basil.
Actually, more than just some.  A lot.
See what I did there?  I spelled "a lot" correctly.
It's two separate words.
I'm a grammar nazi and I have issues.
We'll talk about how to say "caramel" 
another time, in another post that is
entirely directed toward, er, 
dedicated to Starbucks employees...

I'm really bummed that I didn't get a better picture but 
I really was so excited by how it turned out
that I had to have been shaking for joy, I tell you.
When you put an egg wash on pie crust,
something magical happens.

Maybe the aroma had something to do with it 
but sweet merciful heavens!
I just think it was the most beautiful flaky 
crust to ever come out of my oven.
And it tasted even better!
Good thing I made two of them!
And guess what?  It's not too bad as a left-over.

Trust me:  
homemade pie crust, home-grown
tomatoes and fresh herbs.
Those three = winner.

Pioneer Woman's

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