Garden Fresh Tomatoes and Salsa

Garedn Fresh Tomatoes and Salsa

Fresh produce from the garden. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? SALSA!!

But first a little tomato trivia:

The U.S. Congress passed the Tariff Act of 1883 which levied a ten percent duty on imported vegetables to protect American growers from foreign competition. This same year they declared the tomato a vegetable, so it could be included in the tariff, and from that time on the fruit was converted to a vegetable.

Tomato At Its Best, When Cooked

Tomatoes are at their peak, and now is the time to roast or cook and can them. Roasting or cooking tomatoes make them better for you, as the lycopene is higher after being cooked. Lycopene is an antioxidant that is great for keeping the heart healthy and on beat. Harvard Medical School says that one slice of raw tomato contains approximately 515 micrograms of lycopene, while 2 tablespoons of tomato paste contains 13,800 micrograms of lycopene.

Here are some info-graphics that the Health News Library has post about tomatoes over the past year (2013-14).

Preventing skin damage with tomatoes

tomatoes and cancer

With the harvest of our latest tomatoes, we remembered a recipe we have for Fresh Mexican Salsa in the form of a video. After viewing the video check out this link for more information on the benefits of tomatoes: Protecting Your Skin From the Sun.

Enjoy the video and we hope you prepare Fresh Mexican Salsa with your garden fresh tomatoes.

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Citrus Herb Roasted Vegetables

Citrus Herb Roasted Vegetables

This recipe focuses on the roasted vegetables as a side dish. We did use skinless chicken thighs (bone-in) as this is my families favorite part of the chicken. Though I do prefer, de-boned, skinless chicken breast.

You can roast these vegetables with about any meat you wish, including fish like Salmon or Halibut. The blend of seasonings that we used are common culinary herbs with the zest of citrus fruits, orange and lemon. This seasoning blend is well suited for many uses in the kitchen, like adding spice to a fruit salad, or add it to a grain, such as quinoa. For lean meats, you can use the citrus herb seasoning as a dry rub before grilling.

The seasoning consists of  the following:

1 tbsp. dried thyme

1 tbsp. dried oregano

2 tbsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1 tsp. dried sage

1 tsp. fennel seeds

Mix the ingredients together in a spice grinder and store the blend in an airtight container.

The fresh ingredients you add to the seasoning when ready to use are:

1 1/2 tsp. fresh orange zest

1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon zest

Here are the vegetables you will need, but keep in mind, you can use just about any vegetable you like:

vegetables neede for Citrus Herb Roasted Vegetables

Here we are using 2 zucchini squash, 2 crookneck squash, 2 carrots, about 15 Brussels sprouts, and 1 small to medium eggplant. Note if you are going to bake some chicken or fish with the vegetables, you may not use the amount that is called for, due to spacing in the baking pan.

pouring season mix into baking pan

In a mixing cup add the zest of both citrus fruits, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the herb seasoning mix. You may want to add about 1 teaspoon of sea salt. To the dry mix add 1/4 cup olive oil or avocado oil, 2 tablespoons of honey or 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, and 1/4 cup orange juice. We used the juice of a fresh Navel orange. Of course it juiced almost 1 cup. One fourth cup was added to the mix, and the cook got their dose of vitamin-C (he drank the rest). This is optional, add 1 minced fresh clove of garlic.

Mix the dry ingredients with the wet till well combined and pour into a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Now if you don’t like meat, than maybe you will want to look away as we show you the next step.

putting chicken thighs over seasoning face down

Next, depending the meat you want to use, place meat into pan. Here we used skinless chicken thighs, placed bone side up. If using fish with skin on, place fish in with meat down.  Bake in a preheated oven on 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Placing chopped vegetables into baking pan to roast

Remove pan from oven and turn thighs over and arrange chopped vegetables over and around meat. If you are going to just use the vegetables only, than pour wet seasoning mix into baking pan, add vegetables and roast for 30 minutes in the 400 degree oven.

Place baking pan back into oven and cook another 30 minutes. This will insure chicken meat is cooked to 165 degrees internal temperature and will roast the vegetables.

Citrus Herb Roasted Vegetables

Remove roasted vegetables to a serving dish, then place meat on to a serving platter. Pour or spoon as much of the seasoned liquid as you like over the roasted vegetables.

Citrus Herb Roasted Vegetables with Baked Chicken Thighs

Plate and serve.

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Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

 

We went shopping for some fruits and vegetables and I found a good watermelon. The batch of melons we were examining were from Mexico. The watermelons were all little girl enjoying a sweet watermelonthe same weight and the same shape. If your asking how is that possible, it is because we bought it at Cost Co. All of the fruits and vegetables they stock have to be to their standards, that is shape, size, and weight. Especially if the produce is sold in singles, like watermelons. As they have no scales to weigh the produce, they need to be the same weight.

With that said, you may think that every watermelon in the bunch is equally as ripe and sweet. But not so. How is one able to choose the right melon?

I found this image on-line that is self explanatory. It shows how you can select the right melon, so when you cut it up and take your first bit, you won’t be dissatisfied with a non-sweet, pithy watermelon.

choosing a rip watermelon

Once you have your rip, sweet watermelon, you need to try this wonderful salad: Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad.

Here is what you will need:

chopped watermelon

Wow, doesn’t that melon look rip and juicy. You need  1 ripe and sweet watermelon, cubed at desired size, 5-7 pieces per salad plate. You will use between 1/4 and 1/2 of the melon. It all depends on how many plates you will be serving.

ingredients both for the Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad and the vinaigrette

In addition you will need:

1 shaved fennel bulb set in ice water to crisp

1/8 cup toasted hazelnuts, broken into small pieces

1 oz. goat cheese, crumbled into small pieces

1 cup Tender Greens lettuce mix (variety of lettuce and greens)

1/2 shallot, minced

The shallot will be used in the Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette.

ingredients for Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette

Along with the shallots you will need the following to make the Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette to mix with the leafy greens:

5 chive stems, finely chopped

3 basil leaves, finely sliced (I forgot to mark that on the image. That is what is in the jar in the back ground)

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¾ cup olive oil

 Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette

 

Whisk together shallots, chives, basil, honey and balsamic; slowly add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

preparing hazel nuts, and anise for the Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

 

Next remove the green top from the fennel and shave the bulb allowing the shaved parts to fall into a pie plate full of  ice water to crisp the shavings. What ever method you want to use, chop the hazel nuts. I have a Progress-o Chopper in among my kitchen arsenal.

 

mixing salad, adding vinaigrette

 

In a large bowl gently toss tender greens, crisp fennel, toasted hazelnut, add some salt and pepper to taste. Next add 2 tbsp. of the vinaigrette together with the leafy greens and incorporate well.

Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

 

Plate the leafy greens mixture. Place cubed watermelon on salad mix, about 5 to 7 cubed pieces. Crumble goat cheese on top. Finish with drizzled vinaigrette around salad.

If you desire to add meat to this salad, cook up 12 to 16 oz. of pork bacon; but not crispy. Cut each strip into 5 or 6 slices. Top the bacon after adding watermelon and then top with goat cheese.

Take this salad to your next Pot Luck or Summer Picnic in the Park and nobody will stop talking about the person who brought that tasty and delectable salad.

This recipe adopted from: Tender Greens 

 

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Honey Roasted Nuts

Honey Roasted Nuts

A part from being a mouthwatering snack, honey roasted nuts have nutritional benefits as well.

Nuts have protein, fiber, antioxidants and mono-saturated fat. It’s the fat that protects you from chronic heart disease. Some studies have reported that consuming one ounce of nuts daily reduces the risk of developing diabetes.

To receive the value of 6 grams of protein in Almonds you need to eat one ounce (about 24 nuts). There is also the benefits of vitamin E and the trace mineral magnesium.

To get 4 grams of protein from Cashews it is also one ounce (about 18 nuts) along with these trace minerals: selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.

Twenty halves of pecans will give you 3 grams of protein along with vitamin B-1 for energy and the trace mineral zinc.

Now let’s get to roasting!!

Here is what you will need:

ingredients for Honey Roasted Nuts

In a medium bowl pour in three cups of mixed nuts, almonds, cashews and pecans. Pour 1/4 cup of honey over the nuts. Cut up 3 tablespoons of butter into small chunks
and disperse over nuts. Add 3 teaspoons of orange zest and sprinkle in the 1/2 teaspoon mixed cinnamon and nutmeg. To make it a better choice snack for the health of your heart replace the butter with 3 tablespoons of coconut oil (read our article about: Adding a Little Zest).

mixing all ingredients together for roasting

Next place bowl into microwave for 4 to 7 minutes. The time will depend on your microwave. I was able to roast the nuts in 4 minutes. Half way through the roasting stir
the mixture up. Place back into the microwave and continue to roast. While you are waiting place a sheet of parchment paper onto a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.

preparing  finished roasted nuts for cooling

When nuts have finished roasting, remove the bowl and pour nuts out over parchment paper. Allow the nuts to cool for about 20 to 30 minutes.

adding sugar, dried cranberries and dried coconut
Next, with clean hands break up cooled roasted nuts and place into a large bowl. After you have broken apart the roasted nuts add about 1/4 cup or less of sugar (optional). The amount of sugar is to your liking. Mix up the nuts to coat them with the sugar. The amount of dried cranberries and shredded coconut is also to your liking. I added two handfuls of cranberries and two handfuls of coconut. Now mix in these additions until well incorporated.

Take your Honey Roasted Nuts and place them into a jar or container with a tight fitted lid. Enjoy!!

Honey Roasted Nuts packed into a Jar

You can have Honey Roasted Nuts with your next party or dinner gathering along with these other favorites Party Favorites .

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