Tag Archives: garden

Fried Green Tomatoes

I’m not sure what it is about fried green tomatoes that makes me want to learn how to cook them perfectly. Sure, I loved the movie, and that is where I first learned of their existence, but it goes beyond that. 

If you do a recipe search for fried green tomatoes, you’ll find a lot of variation. Some require a dip in milk, egg, and bread crumbs, some add herbs and spices. The old school crowd might use lard or bacon grease, while the purists say the only way to make them is with a simple dusting of flour.

I think the reason I want to conquer this southern favorite is because of the passion and nostalgia that cling to each recipe. People love these summer treats for so many reasons–because they remind them of the place they call home, of a beloved Grandma’s recipe, or of lazy lunches in the summertime, when the tomatoes were not yet sweet and red, and still had a tang that could make you pucker. 

I also can’t resist a challenge, and what’s more challenging than a food that has legions of die-hard fans, all claiming to know the ‘right’ way to make them, with such a simple list of ingredients? Sure, you could fancy them up with countless bells and whistles, but in this case, I think true talent is told through simplicity and technique.

So, here are my tomatoes. One from our garden, and two from the farmer’s market. Please bear with my photos–I took the camera from the box only about  minutes before I snapped these, so I’m a little green (punny, I know…)

The pinkish tomato on top was too close to ripe and would have mushed upon frying, so I just ate that one.

The bigger green tomato from our garden had zero flavor, so we ate a couple of bites, then chalked that one up to kitchen experimentation. 

But this little beauty from the farmer’s market? Crisp, tangy perfection!

I decided to take the minimalist approach, and dredged the slices in a mixture of flour, salt, and pepper, then fried them in a thin puddle of red pepper-infused olive oil until golden. Super simple.

Here’s the finished product.

They were deliciously tangy, and sturdy enough to handle the frying without turning to mush. I served them with some simple panko-crusted tilapia and some sweet potato fries, which I did not take pictures of because, well, because I was hungry. :)  Remoulade sauce was on hand, as well.

I can’t wait to make them again, and again. I can only imagine how much better they’ll get with time and practice!

The only thing missing? A tall glass of sweet tea!

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I find that when it comes to fried green tomatoes, most people either love them or hate them. If you’re a “love ‘em” kind of person, I’d love to hear your tips on how to perfect them!

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Filed under Recipes & Food

Mommy and Me Hummus Recipe

I have been accused of being a little too cautious when it comes to introducing solids to my son.

My response? Well, I’ll let you guess. :x

I care...really care…about the relationship my son has with food, so yes, I’m pretty careful. The way I see it, that’s my job as his mother, so he doesn’t get a bite of french fry or a lick of an ice cream cone just to elicit a cute reaction. He’s 8 months old now, and so far his diet has consisted of:

  • Breastmilk
  • Water, as long as it doesn’t interfere with nursing
  • Oatmeal (at 5 1/2 months), organic
  • Veggies (at 6 months), organic
  • Fruits (at 6 months), organic
  • A total of 4 organic maple oat teether cookies
  • I’ve not yet introduced wheat, dairy, eggs, meats, soy, citrus, juice, sugar, salt …well, you get the idea.

But, I’m not a big meanie, either, and lately I’ve noticed my son noticing my plate. He always has, but it’s getting more obvious and he’s definitely getting more vocal about it. This tells me two things: I have to be super aware of the example I’m setting, and I need to start letting him try some new things.

So, a few days ago, while eating hummus on pita chips, I caved in and gave him a little taste.

How did he like it? Well, I think we may have a little hummus monster on our hands.

It was fun to share my food with my boy. Exploring healthy new foods together is one of the things I’ve been looking most forward to. But, as soon as I gave him a few smidges of my hummus, I immediately regretted it when I remembered that sesame, which is in most hummus, is a common allergen and should be avoided until about 12 months. ACK!

When I snapped back into reality and realized that one taste wasn’t going to hurt him, I set my mind to making some baby-friendly hummus that we could enjoy together, and that I could feel good about.

The recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked organic chickpeas
  • scant 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 drizzle olive oil
  • 1 squeeze fresh lemon

Add all ingredients into food processor and process until well blended and smooth. Add water to thin if needed.

There seem to be different schools of thought about citrus fruits and babies under one year in age. The acid in oranges, lemons, etc. can cause reactions and rashes, but I am not freaking out over a small squeeze in a bowl of hummus. I think WholesomeBabyFood.com put it best:

There is a big difference in using a drop or 2 of lemon juice as a preservative in a fruit purée, as the drop or 2 is spread throughout the purée and your infant will not be consuming the drops with each bite of fruit purée that is taken.  It is entirely different than offering your baby a few slices of oranges or chopped tomatoes for example.

Little did I know when I started making this that my husband had already unearthed our garden garlic and had it drying in the sun. This bulb was so warm and fragrant,  it felt like it had been in the oven! Heaven!

Looks pretty bland, huh? Well, it is. But that’s OK…it’s supposed to be, at least for now. Just a hint of garlic, and the cumin is barely detectable. I believe in introducing herbs and spices early, but little tummies are sensitive so they have to be introduced slowly and carefully. Besides, what seems bland to me is a whole new taste exploration for my little guy.

Since Mommy likes a little kick, we discovered a fun way to share our little pot of hummus so that we’re both happy…he eats his plain and unadulterated, and I keep a bottle of hot sauce nearby and drip a drop each time I pop a chip! Perfect!

The new hummus won rave reviews (or big smiles, at least.) He’ll never go through this whole bowl, but it was a good practice run. Next time, I’ll remove his portion and add some peppadews or sun-dried tomatoes to the rest, to be enjoyed by Mommy and Daddy (with some wine, after he nods off at night. ;)

The best thing about this recipe (besides the fact that it’s cheap, easy and healthy, of course) is that it can grow right along with your baby! Veggies, spices and any other flavors you want to introduce can be added as his palate develops, and for toddlers, it’s right at home spread on whole wheat toast or nestled in a heated quesadilla, served with salsa. 

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What’s your favorite “Past Purees” baby or toddler recipe?

How do you respond when/if others challenge the way you feed your child? Would you ever challenge the way someone else fed their child? 

8 Comments

Filed under Parenting & Family, Recipes & Food, The Everyday

The rest of the day has to be better, right?

Ugh! What a morning!

Let me tell you one thing I know for sure: Automatic door locks are NOT as much of a convenience as you would think. I was at the gas station today, in the midst of a mayfly swarm, and I shut my door, only to hear a click and realize my keys, phone, wallet, etc. were locked inside. 

Again, ugh. 

Needless to say, I was an hour late to work and now I am in super-overdrive. I apologize if this post seemed a but rushed…

Silver lining: Baby was NOT in the car. See…something to be happy about :)

Anyhoo, let’s rewind to the much more relaxing yesterday:

My little man and I got up early and shared a smoothie! Well, he only licked the spoon because he can’t really have strawberries yet (they are a common allergen, so the recommendation is 1 year.)

The mash-up: Kale (from Grammie and Pop Pop Garden Pea’s garden!) strawberries, fresh bloobs from the yard, a nanner and some coconut milk.

Sideshow included a Food for Life sprouted grains bread heel spread with coconut butter. Dipping: YUM!

It had a few more chunks than I’d like, but pretty, I think. I had to make it in my food processor since I broke my faux Magic Bullet-ish puree machine. I’m thinking that what I need for a truly smooth smoothie is a Vitamix, but not so sure one is in the budget any time soon. I’d like to get the healthy smoothie habit started early with my boy, though, so I may have to do some shopping…

During naptime, I cut up this watermelon to snack on after dinner. Not fancy, just functional. Kind of feels like summer…

After naptime, we were both ready for playtime! You just can’t beat a blanket in the grass and a $.99 bottle of bubbles. 

Dinner included these zucchini fritters, adapted from a recipe in this month’s Food Network Magazine. (I’ll always take a new zuke recipe!)

  • 1 beast of a zucchini, shredded
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, shredded
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 small onion, chopped

I shredded the zuke and tossed it into a colander with the salt for 10 minutes, then pressed out the liquid. I then combined all the ingredients in a bowl, mixed well, and dropped the batter by the large spoonful into a bit of olive oil to pan fry until brown and crispy. Easy as that!

I’m thinking these would be good with a yogurty dipping sauce, or served with a dilly salmon. Next time…

Fritters alongside a plain old tuna salad, served in Belgium endive leaves, and some kale massaged with lime and sea salt. A simple, satisfying dinner that did not require a trip to the store.  :D Goal accomplished yet again!

Sadly, the lovely lunch of leftovers I packed for today lost its life in this morning’s keys-in-the-car-for-4-hours-on-a-hot-morning debacle. So, I ended up with chocolate chip cookies for breakfast (I was not entirely disappointed… ;) ) and this “veggie bowl” from the convenience store for lunch. Can you believe this was $6.65? It was totally plain–not even salt or anything–so I added a packet of Parm. This time, I was entirely disappointed.

…and hungry. :(  

I will not be locking my keys in my car again!

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What kind of appliance do you use to make a smoothie? What are your favorite smoothie ingredients?

6 Comments

Filed under Parenting & Family, Recipes & Food, The Everyday

Rainy Day Squash Boats

I’m all for rain, but what’s with the threatening skies every time I have a day off!? Not being able to hang laundry outside really throws a wrench into the rest of my week. 

Rrrrr…. :x

Oh well. It’s good for the garden, right? Besides, a rainy day is the perfect time to take care of some things on the To-Do list and spend some playtime in the kitchen!

To-Do for Today? Baby food!

Back when I was prego, I got a lot of cr*p from people when I said I wanted to make my own baby food (among other things…) I never said I wanted to make every single bite of it, but I did want my baby to eat homemade food whenever possible. You should have heard all the comments I got…“You just wait…you won’t have time”…”Must be nice to have that much free time on your hands”…”Ha ha…I said that, too, and then I woke up to reality.” I heard ‘em all. Some people just laughed at me and rolled their eyes.

For those people, this is for you.

I timed it, and it took me all of 20 minutes during my son’s midday nap to turn one organic mango and 3 organic peaches into 7 servings of fresh, healthy, beautiful baby food. I mean, come on…it’s not rocket science.

Only the nice fleshy parts are included.

One for the next day at Grammie’s house, and the rest for the freezer. He’s not eating a whole lot at once right now, so I’m still making small batches. Once we graduate up to big batches, it will be even more efficient. 

I paid a total of $5 for the lot, and I don’t have to worry about all these scary recalls. Priceless, in my opinion.

It’s that easy, and believe me, I don’t have ANY spare time on my hands these days.

Note to self: People will always tell you YOU CAN’T. Always know that YOU CAN. (especially when little eyes are watching your example and taking notes…)

Once that was done, the sun came out so grilling came to mind. I have vowed not to shop for a few days because I want to use up some of the masses of random groceries taking over my kitchen, so I started rummaging…

Hmmm….a few yellow summer squash from the garden. Those are fresh and perishable, so they definitely need to be involved here…

Quinoa needs to be used up….have a can of black beans….some tomato sauce…garlic, sea salt….hmmm….

Squash boats! Sort of. They were too small to dig out the middles and stuff, but they were happy to be topped with a yummy quinoa something-or-other.

Olive oil, salt and pepper.

Oh, too dark. Nope! Turns out they were just right.

Pot full o’stuff. More than enough for 2 dinners and 2 lunches!

I feel like this was missing something green, but my kale was buggy. Eek! A good dousing of hot sauce kicked it up a little.

In the end, I feel like I accomplished a few things: I spent very little, I used up some neglected pantry items, and I fed my family the way I want to without much time in the kitchen. 

Feeling like a pretty good mommy today… :D

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A lot of people say that they can’t eat a healthy made-from-scratch diet because they don’t have time. What’s your response to that excuse?

The zucchini/squash onslaught has begun! What’s your best recipe?

Reminder: don’t forget to enter to win free products from Turtle Mountain! I’ll be picking a 2 winners on Saturday, 6.26…

4 Comments

Filed under Home & Garden, Parenting & Family, Recipes & Food, The Everyday

Father’s Day: Vegan Trail Mix Cookies

For Father’s Day, I decided to give my husband the gift of eternal life!

…in the form of these super nutrient-rich cookies!

(He’s not vegan, but I lucked out with a guy who is really into the idea of a plant-based diet as long as it includes hamburgers, too.)

I thought I’d share my recipe, straight from the Chef at the test kitchen at ABCGP! (Me, of course!)

Vegan Trail Mix Cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • one pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar or other sweetener of your choice
  • 1/4 cup So Delicious coconut milk beverage
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla)
  • 1 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • Egg replacer for 2 eggs (My choice: 2 4-ounce jars of Earth’s Best Pureed Pear baby food and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder)
  • 1/3 pound trail mix (My choice: an organic blend of jumbo raisins, roasted pumpkin seeds, raw almonds, walnuts, goji berries, cranberries, and mulberries. See below)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 2 baking sheets or stones with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In a larger bowl, combine coconut oil, brown sugar, egg replacer, coconut milk and vanilla, mixing until well blended. Add dry ingredients along with oats and trail mix. Stir or use hands to mix well. Drop by large tablespoons onto cookie sheets. (Cookies will not spread, so flattening and shaping them a bit is a good idea.)

Bake until just browned and firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Brush with agave nectar when slightly cooled, if desired.

Makes approx. 20 cookies.

And there you have it! I was a little afraid to experiment with this recipe because I really didn’t want to waste so many pricey ingredients, but, happily, the cookies turned out great! (I really did only eat one, though. Daddy got the rest.) 

Before the cookie madness started, we started Daddy’s day a little bit early with a fun Father’s Day Eve lunch that I picked up on my way home from work.

He: Salmon rolls

She: Roasted cauliflower and tiny roasted taters. I’m not happy about paying take-out prices for something so easy to make, but they were BANGIN’!

 I picked up a few other things while I was at it. I’m thinking there have been a few too many splurges on ingredients lately…but it’s all in the name of good health (and full tummies), right?

Good fats, iron and antioxidants…

The aforementioned trail mix, chia seeds and wheatberries, all organic… :) I got some Medjool dates, too, but they didn’t make it into the shot…

Maybe it’s time to use things up before I buy any more. That always leads to fun things in the kitchen, don’t you think?

Stay tuned for the rest of the Father’s Day lowdown! I’m hoping to check back in later today…

Now, go bake some cookies!

…and don’t forget to enter to win some free goodies from Turtle Mountain! Go coconut!

3 Comments

Filed under Recipes & Food, The Everyday