Comforting Ratatouille

Just like in the animated movie, this ratatouille is visually pleasing and has the flavor to back it up.

Slice the tomatoes in half. Lay them face down on a cookie sheet. Broil for 5-7 minutes until lightly blackened.
Stew tomatoes on the stove for 15 minutes to slightly reduce. Add the onion and garlic.
Let the tomatoes cool slightly. Blend the tomatoes until lightly pureed.
Preheat the oven to 375*. Slice the zucchini, squash and peppers on a mandoline (or slice thinly with a knife).
Pour the tomato puree into a 9×13 pan. Arrange the zucchini, squash and peppers in a circular pattern around the pan. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. (sprinkle with cheese if you want)
Cover with parchment paper cut to fit the dish.
Bake for 50-60 minutes. Remove the parchment paper ten minutes before taking the dish out of the oven.

Swiss Chard Pie

I created this recipe as a way to get my boys to devour all the bountiful greens we had in our garden. It’s similar to a quiche, but they love the idea of having “pie” for dinner.

Preheat the oven to 400. Line a 9″ pie pan with pie crust recipe. Pre-bake for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, sautee the onion and garlic in butter until soft and fragrant. Add the Swiss Chard, tomato, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook until the chard greens are wilted and the stems softened.
Beat eggs together. Add cooked vegetable mixture and cheese to the eggs. Stir and pour into pre-baked crust. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the center of the pie is set. Cover crust edges with foil if they start to brown before the center is cooked.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Cut, serve and enjoy!

Taco Bake

The best part of a taco is the topping, right? So do it up, make it grand. Bake and serve to a crowd, and watch them ooh and ahh.

Layer everything into a 9×13 pan in the order listed in the ingredients.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350.
It is very tasty to serve this with some avocado slices

Feta-Stuffed Basil Burgers

Kick your burgers up a notch with this recipe

Chop the basil and knead into the burger. Divide the burger into eight equal pieces.
Finely chop the serrano and mix in with the feta.
Flatten one of the pieces of burger as flat as it can go. Put 1/8 cup of the feta mixture in the center. Flatten another piece of burger and place it on top of the first piece, gently squeezing together the seam.
Continue doing this until you have four stuffed burgers.
Grill until browned on each side.
I like to serve this with a lettuce or kale wrap (to keep it grain-free).

Canning Pizza Sauce and Tomato Sauce

We make pizza about once a week. Normally I make my pizza sauce each time by sauteing onions and garlic, adding diced tomatoes and then sprinkling in the spices and cooking for 30 minutes. All the while getting splatters of red sauce all over my stove and counters. No more! My goal was to can a pizza sauce that I could use straight out of the jar.

Behold my canned pizza sauce:

Sterilize the jars by boiling in the water-bath canner for 10 minutes and pouring boiling water over the lids, keep them upside down on a clean towel until ready to use.
Clean and wash tomatoes. Remove the top part where the tomato attaches to the stem and then quarter. Set aside.
Sautee the onions and garlic in a huge pot with the olive oil until the onions are glassy. Add the quartered tomatoes, oregano, bay, pepper, honey, salt and jalapeno. Simmer for twenty minutes.
Remove the bay leaves and puree the tomatoes either with a stick blender in the pot or batching in a blender or food processor.
Strain the pureed tomatoes through a food mill or colander to remove seeds and peels.
Cook the pulp on the stove uncovered, over medium-high heat stirring frequently until the volume is reduced by half. You should have about 7 quarts.
Add one tablespoon of lemon juice per pint or two tablespoons of lemon juice per quart then fill each jar leaving 1/2 inch head space. Put on the cap and screw band.
Process in a water-bath canner for 35 minutes for pints and 40 minutes for quarts.

Cheesy Rice & Squash Casserole

This is a quick and easy recipe that is great to take to potlucks, as it feeds a crowd! I like using squash and zucchini from our garden.

Soak rice at least 7 hours ahead of time by combining rice, water, and vinegar. Let sit in a warm spot.
Cook rice, and set aside.
Melt butter, and saute onion and garlic until soft.
Add in squash and zucchini, cover and cook until soft.
Add in rice, sour cream, cheese and seasonings of choice.
Pour in milk until it reaches desired consistency (if making ahead, you can add a little more, to prevent it drying out in the oven.)
Spread into a greased 11×15 inch pan, then sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 20 minutes or so, until heated through.

Home Canned Pizza Sauce

Making your own pizza sauce takes some time, but it is far superior to anything you can purchase at the grocery store. If you have access to fresh paste tomatoes, give it a try! You will NOT be disappointed!

Combine all ingredients in heavy-bottomed stainless steel kettle.
Bring slowly to a boil, without a lid, and then simmer for 1 hour.
Process all of the soup through a food mill.
Pour remaining slurry into a crock pot.
Set crock pot on “low” and leave the lid off. It might take up to 24 hours to reduce sufficiently.
Cover the crock pot with a wire rack and a cotton cloth to keep dust and bugs out while it is cooking down.
Can the pizza sauce using a water bath canner, 35 minutes in pints or half-pints, or 45 minutes in quarts.

Chicken Pesto Pizza

Pizza Thursdays aren’t a takeout night for me. This is a time where a “gourmet” pizza can be thrown together in a short time and I know that I am nourishing my family. This pizza recipe happened when leftovers needed to be eaten and it received rave reviews. The great thing about pizza is that you can add or subtract toppings as you wish.

Preheat oven 425°
Chop onion and saute with butter until translucent.
Stir chicken, pesto, milk/cream and cooked onion together in a bowl and set aside. This mixture should not be runny.
Roll out pizza dough on a pizza stone or pan (make sure there is sprouted flour on stone or pan before rolling out dough). You can prebake the dough in the oven for 5 minutes or proceed to next step.
Layer the dough with the chicken mixture.
Sprinkle cheese on top.
Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes until cheese is golden.
Let cool for 5-10 minute before cutting into pizza.

Asian-Style Fried Rice

This meatless one-pot meal transforms basic kitchen staples into a delicious — AND FAST! — weeknight meal. It packs all the delicious flavor of Asian cuisine, but uses wholesome ingredients. Chopsticks are optional.

HINT: The secret to making this recipe is to prep all your ingredients in advance.
In a large skillet, saute diced onion in butter with a pinch of salt over medium heat — about 3-4 minutes.
In a small bowl, beat eggs and 1/4 tsp salt with a fork until combined.
Quickly scramble eggs, ensuring they do not get over cooked and rubbery (about 1 minute).
Add garlic, cooking until fragrant — about 30 seconds.
Working quickly, add soy sauce, ginger, carrots, peas, and rice.
Saute until heated through.
Want extra mix-ins? Try adding celery, bell-peppers, and shredded cabbage.
NOTE: To make soaked rice, place measured rice (ie 4 cups) in a large bowl and cover thoroughly with filtered water. Soak for 12-24 hours. Discard water and rinse rice. The rice will have grown in size. Cook rice with fresh water, using ratios for your original measurement. Because the rice has grown in size and absorbed water, it will cook more quickly and does not need as much water.

Easy Frozen Corn-on-the-Cob

The traditional way of freezing corn-on-the-cob is to take off the shucks, silks and stalks, blanch the cobs in boiling water, cool them in ice water and then pack them into freezer bags. That works. It is OK only. I have a better way… 🙂

Take off just a few of the husks.
Carefully peel back the remaining husks and remove the silks.
Replace the husks and pack your cobs in freezer bags.
Freeze. That’s it!
When you get these out of the freezer to serve for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, just take off the husks, boil them for a few minutes and enjoy! You will find that these taste better and are less watery.

Salmon Gravlax with Creme Fraiche

Chef Annie Cuggino of Veritable Quandary in Portland, Ore., shares her recipe for salmon gravlax with creme fraiche using whole, all-natural ingredients. The dish features a garnish of micro greens.

Instructions for Creme Fraiche (makes 1 quart):
Heat heavy cream to 90 degrees.
Remove from heat and stir in 1 TB buttermilk.
Leave at room temperature for 24-48 hours, or until thickened.

Instructions for Salmon Gravlax:
Mix everything but the Citron together.
Splash the side of salmon with the Absolute Citron.
Pack the salmon in the salt/sugar/lime/fennel mixture.
Wrap in cheesecloth.
Weigh it down lightly. A kosher salt box works well for this.
Refrigerate for 24 hours.
Rinse cure off with cold water.
Pat dry.
Slice and serve on top of dollops of Creme Fraiche.

Bacon Cheddar Burger

A burger is always better home made, but there are so many fancy ones you can get when you go out. The bacon cheddar combo is one of my favorites at home or when we go out.

Line the bacon strips up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400 degrees with a second pan on top to press the bacon strips (to keep them flat) for 10 minutes. Uncover the bacon and bake for another 10 minutes or until it is done to taste.
Season the ground beef with salt, pepper and garlic to taste. Roll the meat into two balls and press them into a ¾ inch patty. Put the patties on a plate under a glass bowl and chill them for 30 minutes or more in the fridge.
Heat a cast iron skillet to medium or medium-high heat. Sprinkle the pan with sea salt.
Cook the burger 4 to 5 minutes per side (medium is ideal). When the burgers are almost done, put two slices of cheese on each patty and cover the skillet to melt the cheese.
Stack the burgers and the bacon on your favorite real food bun or bread with whatever sauce you like. I recommend Jami’s Spicy and Tangy Kombucha Barbecue Sauce or Helay’s Lacto-Fermented Mayo.