grilled bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes

grilled bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes

grilled bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes (1 of 1) I’m sure you’ve all seen the cover for the July/August edition of Martha Stewart Living in either a book store or your grocery store. If you’ve seen it, then you know why I just had to run out and make up this bread. I opened up my mailbox last week and saw the cover showcasing this beautiful assortment of heirloom tomatoes on top of this toasted bread. I immediately went to the grocery store, bought me some heirlooms and made this up for lunch. I have to say that I was in food heaven. This bread is crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside from the juicy heirlooms and olive oil. The crunchy sea salt and fresh basil just give it another punch of flavor and texture. John and I split half a loaf up for lunch one day and paired it with my lacinato kale salad and drumsticks another night for dinner. I also brought this to a friend’s house and served it up as an appetizer. Let’s just say it was a hit with everyone. It’s truly the perfect summer bruschetta!

I cut Martha’s original recipe in half and only used the bottom half of the ciabatta bread instead of the whole loaf, (don’t fret, we used the other half for toast and jam the next morning) so feel free to double the quantities in the recipe if you’re serving a larger crowd.

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twice baked potatoes

twice baked potatoes

twice baked potatoesOk, so these potatoes are not one of the healthiest recipes I have on the blog, but they sure are tasty.  I believe that life, as well as food, is all about moderation and balance.  If you have balance, then you are living in the natural harmony of life.  To eat too healthy is actually not healthy.  Too much of one thing is not good for anyone.  Look at nature, when there is too much sun the plants don’t thrive because they need the rain as well. The key to life is balance.

These potatoes bring back happy memories every time I make and eat them.  My dad use to whip up a similar version of these potatoes every Easter and Christmas.  I use to help him out by scooping out the insides of the potatoes after they were baked, and then putting everything back in the skins after all the goodies were added to the potatoes.  It was pure comfort family cooking, but a happy memory in my heart, and one I still cherish.

What’s great about these potatoes or really any potato recipe, is that you can play with the recipe and add what you like to it.  You can add more or less cheese, more or less milk, some other greens, basically you are the creator here, so feel free to create. Another reason I love these potatoes is that they can be made and assembled ahead of time and then baked up later. They’re the perfect potato to bring to a dinner party or potluck.

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roasted beets

beets

Finally a new post!  Can you believe it?  I took a mini blogging vacation as we were visiting John’s family in Minnesota. John’s parents, brother, sister and all their kids live there (6 cousins for my kids to play with). We always plan our Minnesota trip the week before the kids start school, as It’s a great way to close out the summer and the kids come back on Minnesota time, so getting them up for the first day of school is a breeze. Unfortunately, we were lame on taking photos. I think I have more photos of food than I do my family, so sad and so lame. I’m definitely going to change that though.

John and I treating ourselves to an ice-cream after our 3 hour bike ride at one of our favorite old haunts, Sebastian Joes.  Zoe took the photo with ice cream in hand.

So as you can see from the above photo, I ate tons of ice cream and basically ate tons in general.  That’s what you do on vacation, right?  When I got home I was craving salads, kale (no surprise there) and meatless meals.  I was also craving beets, so I decided to roast some up and take some photos along the way.

roasted beets:

  • fresh beets – I typically roast up 2 beets at a time
  • extra virgin olive oil - I use 1 tablespoon for 2 beets
  • salt and pepper to taste – I just use a pinch of salt and omit the pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  
Wash and peel the beets and then trim off the stems and root ends. 
Don’t worry about the reddish/purple stain on your fingers, it will come up when you wash up.
Slice the beets into 1/2 -to-1-inch thick wedges (make sure that they are even in size).  
Throw the beet wedges onto a sheet of aluminum foil.  Drizzle with some olive oil and season with a pinch or two of salt.  
You can also use pepper here, but I chose not to.
Create a roasting pouch for the beets by placing them in the center of the foil, and tightly sealing the foil around them. 
Roast for 40-60 minutes, or until the beets are tender when pierced with a fork.  
The cooking time will depend on the size of your beets and also on your oven.  Sometimes it take 40 minutes for my beets to roast while other times it has taken 50 minutes.  
Check them at 40 minutes and then gage the cooking time from there.  
Let the beets cool a bit and then refrigerate them in a sealed container till needed.  Cooked beets taste best when consumed within 2 days.  You can use roasted beets in a variety of dishes from pastas and risottos to salads.  I actually have 2 great salad recipes that incorporate beets, that I will share with you soon.  

whole-grain skillet corn bread

whole-grain skillet corn bread

Remember when I went crazy over the November issue of Whole Living Magazine?  I made about 4 recipes from that one issue and they were all fantastic.  This corn bread recipe was in it as well, and I couldn’t wait to make it, but I wanted to wait till Santa brought me the cast iron pan I had asked for.  Well, Santa came through and my pan was under the tree Christmas morning wrapped in a big red bow tie.  Thanks Santa. I use my cast iron pan all the time now and recommend picking one up.  They’re a workhorse of a pan and so inexpensive.  This 10″ pan cost $22 and the 12″ costs $28.  I think that is going to be my next purchase with the gift card to Sur La Table that I received from my wonderful brother-in-law, Brandt.  Thanks Brandt!  

The cast iron pan is the key to a perfect crust.  The crust gets all brown and crispy when it cooks in the pre-heated pan.  Add some fresh honey to the top of this bread when it comes out of the oven and you have yourself a healthy grainy bread with a touch of sweetness. 

Whole-Grain Skillet Corn Bread:

Recipe from Whole Living Magazine

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • honey

DSC_0012Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Preheat (about 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven) an 8-inch or 10-inch cast-iron pan, or pie dish if you don’t have a cast iron pan.  I used my 10 inch cast iron pan, and the bread turned out great.

 In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
DSC_0015In a small bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk and 1/4 cup of olive oil.
DSC_0014Fold the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined.
Note:  The batter will be thick and a bit lumpy.
DSC_0022
Take out your preheated pan or pie dish and add the remaining tablespoon of oil, swirling to coat the bottom.  Pour in the batter and smooth the top with a spatula.  I know it looks a bit rough on the top, but the dough is thick and sticky.DSC_0026Bake until golden brown and a tester comes out clean from the center, 20-25 minutes depending on the size of your pan.  Note: My bread took 20 minutes because it was in a 10 inch skillet and was spread out more than it would be in an 8 skillet or pie dish.

DSC_0043Brush with honey, then let cool a bit.DSC_0052

DSC_0075Cut into wedges & add a drizzle of fresh honey or butter to each slice and serve up with your favorite soup or chili.  Take the remaining bread out of the skillet and store in a covered container.  Don’t store the bread in the skillet. 

This bread is also tasty in the morning as a breakfast treat.  Eli has been having a slice with his eggs every morning!