Fried Green Tomatoes

Sunday at the Farmer’s Market, all the good Red tomatoes were gone from our favorite vendor, BUT never fear- we found some really great looking heirloom Green tomatoes… so what else could you make with these tart juicy tomatoes? Well that’s what we thought! Fried Green Tomatoes, very simple to make, and not so unhealthy for you if your oil is hot enough. Here’s what we did,

The main Star:
1 extra large Green Tomato, evenly sliced 1/8″ thick

The Egg Wash:
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup low fat buttermilk or fat free cream or Milk!
dash salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a shallow pie pan or dish, beat all ingredients together, set aside

The Crust:
1/2 cup cornmeal or cornmeal flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
In another shallow pie pan or dish, mix all ingredients together, set aside

To Prepare:
In a frying pan with deep sides, add in 1/4 -1/2 cup canola oil (depending on the size of your frying pan, you want to have a thin layer of oil in the bottom 1/8″ high) heat up the oil over high heat.

Dip the slices of tomato in the Egg Wash, then coat them in the Crust mixture.

Gently place the tomatoes in to the hot oil, cook about 3 minutes per side. They should be golden and crispy.

Then transfer to a plate with paper towels on it and sprinkle with more salt/ pepper to taste. Serve with fresh parsley, ranch dressing or all alone. They’re all good!


Weekend with Heidi and Alejandro!

There is one really, truly special thing that happened while I was living in Wisconsin- meeting two wonderful new friends, Heidi and Alejandro. These two have very kind hearts and made living alone in the middle of WI bearable. Sharing their homemade meals, inspired by Costa Rican cuisine, prepared by the Chef du Jour Alejandro, I was spoiled. I will never forget their generosity and am very grateful for the continued growing friendship we’ve kept. So this past weekend we stayed with these two incredible hosts, for our annual Maywood Earthride. While Heidi and I took on 70 miles of the uphill in the wind Kettle Moraines, the boys stayed home and cooked a champion feast! On the menu for the weekend: turkey quesadillas packed with fresh grilled veggies, egg skillets, veggie hash, beignets with mango sauce, mango sauce glazed fruit salad, and slow cooked short ribs with plantains, chayote, yucca with sweet corn over a bed of hot rice…. mmmmmm. Jason and I got an education on using new exotic veggies as well as USING all your groceries, and I mean utilizing each left over or ripened banana to create exquisite meals that taste anything but leftover. For instance, the turkey used in those loaded quesadillas was in the fridge from a recent roasted turkey dinner and after eating all those delectable beignets, we had leftover mango sauce, so Heidi tossed that in to a fresh fruit salad! It’s simple things you can do to really get the most out of your food with very little waste. Next time you’re about to reheat the same meal from tonight’s dinner, think of a creative way to incorporate it in to a whole new dish, like soup or quesadillas or even a baked savory tart!

The dish we are going to blog about is the dessert BEIGNETS… (pronounced: bey-nyay) it is a pastry made with deep fried dough and then Alejandro creates decadent sauces to drizzle on the top- this time was the aforementioned Mango Sauce… read on and try it yourself… if you don’t have a deep fryer just use canola oil and your large dutch oven pan!

For the Sauce, you’ll need
1 large mango, skin and seed removed then chopped
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

Add all ingredients into a medium sauce pan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, using a hand immulsion blender, blend the mixture till smooth. Continue to reduce the mixture until thickened, about 25 minutes total.

For the Dough
1 cup water
pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
3-4 large eggs (4 if the eggs are on the small side)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Bring the water and pinch of salt to a boil in a large sauce pan, dissolve the sugar, then remove from the heat and slowly stir in the flour, it will get thick but contune to stir constantly until the mixture is smooth- no lumps! Then add in one egg at a time, making sure to completely incorporate each egg before adding the next one. Last, stir in the vanilla.

To Make the Magic happen…

Get your oil HOT whether it’s on your stove or in the fryer. Then using 2 spoons scoop and scrape the mixture ( like cookies) in to the hot oil, don’t over crowd them, they puff up. They cook for about 7 minutes total until golden brown.

Serve with powdered sugar sprinkled on top and drizzled with your Mango sauce…. ENJOY 🙂

Thank you again to our amazingly generous, wonderful friends for having us over and taking such great care of us, we can’t wait to have you back at our place next time!

Pickled Veggies

If you’ve ever been to Nuevo Leon you’ve tasted those pickled carrots and possibly the hotter jalapenos with them! We’ve always wanted to try to make our own, so we asked Alejandro how it’s done, and it is very, very easy…. the best vegetables to use are:

Whole Jalapenos
Sliced Carrot
Chopped Green Beans
Sliced Onions
Garlic, whole
Cauliflower… broccoli… chopped…. whatever you have on hand

To make it:

In a large sauce pan toss in any or all of the above ingredients, then cover with a 50/50 mix of vinegar (plain, white wine, rice wine whatever you’ve got) and water. Bring to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes. When it cools store it on your kitchen table in a sealed vessel and use it to add some flavor to your morning eggs…. on your sandwich for lunch or with dinner!

Chicken, Chipotle and Avocado Soup

As the warm summer air slowly fades away, cool shorter days begin their take over. This recipe is for those of us stuck between mourning summer’s end, and anticipating the crisp fall colors. The fresh ingredients in this simple soup will keep you locked in to the summer, while the richness and wamth of homemade broth ease you into the cool fall nights. Since the ingredients and this recipe are so simple, the broth takes center stage. Making your own broth is the only way to ensure it can stand up for this task. We reserve our chicken carcass from recipes such as our “Whole Roasted Chicken Tacos”, and store it in an airtight bag in our freezer.

1 chicken carcass
10 cups water
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped (see note*)
1 cup onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper
1 bay leaf

Combine all ingredients in a large heavy bottom pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, place lid on the pot, and set your timer for 90 minutes. Strain the contents through a mesh sieve into a large bowl, reserve the carcass, toss the veggies and any skin. When the carcass cools, you can pick off the bits of chicken to use in the soup, usually about 1 cup.
* NOTE: For the veggies, you don’t need to carefully chop up each piece in uniform shape or size, these are only used for flavor in the broth and are dicarded. For the celery, we like to use the discarded top and core that aren’t what you would want to snack on with your peanut butter.

Chicken, Chipotle and Avocado Soup
6 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 chipotle chili pepper in Adobo sauce, seeded and sliced thinly (see note**)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon each Salt/ Pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 avocados, pitted and diced
3 green onions, chopped
1 cup cilantro, chopped
2 limes

Bring the broth, chipotle chili, and garlic to a boil in a large pot. Meanwhile, you will need to cook up 1-2 chicken breasts to add in on top of the reserved chicken from the carcass. We seasoned ours with 1/2 the Olive Oil, Paprika, Garlic, Salt and Pepper. Pour the other 1/2 of the olive oil in a medium pan over medium/ high heat, cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side, until cooked through. Set aside under foil for 5 minutes before chopping it up. In four bowls, divide the avocado, green onions, chicken, and cilantro. Ladle the broth mixture over each bowl, and squeeze some lime juice over the top. Serve with tortilla chips and sour cream if desired.
** NOTE: Chipotle Chilis in Adobo come in a small can at the store with about 10 chilis, we divide them in to separate zipper baggies and keep them in our freezer to use whenever a recipe calls for it. Usually a recipe will only call for 1-2 chilis, as they are very potent in flavor (and heat if you leave those seeds in!).

Pilsen Farmer’s Market

Each weekend from June through the end of October, we look forward to Sunday mornings browsing the local produce and products at our Pilsen Farmer’s Market. During this time, Basil, cucumbers, peppers, squash, sweet corn, swiss chard, blueberries, watermelon, tomatoes, and honey are all in season. Honey is brought to the market from 1 block away, where you will find a full functioning beehive on top of Simone’s, our local restaurant and bar. Another one is called the Carpenter Street Beeyard also in Pilsen- who knew we had so many? The Chicago Botanic Garden vendor seems by far, to be our favorite spot. All the produce is grown in local greenhouses near Pilsen, so each vegetable is picked VERY fresh and brought to the market that day. We had a lot of fun exploring the seasonal picks; each inspiring new recipe creations that we will be enjoying and sharing this week. Stay posted.

Tuna Burgers for 2

In an effort to stay away from the grocery store and use up some ingredients we had on hand, Tuna Burgers were brought to life- not a tuna salad sandwich and not a beefy burger, but a merging of the two… the result was a delicious warm patty of perfectly seasoned tuna on a bed of spinach and fresh tomato- give it a try,

20 ounces of tuna in water, drained VERY well
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon Teriyaki
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
Canola Oil
Combine all ingredients together (save the Canola) and form in to 4 equal sized patties. In a large frying pan, distribute Canola oil to cover bottom of the pan, and heat over medium high heat. Add the burgers and cook till browned, about 3 minutes per side. Serve with your favorite sliced cheese, spinach, tomato, and avocado on a bun. Enjoy!

Cajun Halibut with Swiss Chard

1 bag of frozen Trader Joe’s Halibut Pieces, thawed and pat dry

1 tablespoon Cajun Hot seasoning ( ours is from Stanleys)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch thinly sliced Swiss chard
1/4 cup pitted green olives, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins


Season Halibut pieces with Cajun mix. In a large frying pan over medium high heat, melt the butter. Place the pieces in the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes, till seared and cooked through but not dry. Serve with Swiss Chard recipe below.

Swiss chard with olives and golden raisins

Brown 1 chopped onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add 1 bunch thinly sliced Swiss chard, chopped pitted green olives, and golden raisins; sauté for about 6 minutes or until soft. Season with salt and pepper.

Bob’s Corn

Every year for the past 18 years, Amber’s family has celebrated TEVA fest ( Terry and Eva’s wedding anniversary Pig Roast, camp out fest!) Bob’s corn is the highlight of the meal, ok the pig roast is amazing too, but there’s something special about the freshest corn on the cob that you could ever imagine… perfect crisp bite, savory sweetness, grilled in it’s husk to perfection and dipped in real butter to make it the most incredible food you have ever eaten… you can’t duplicate it- so sorry, but this post is just to brag.

Tomato and Artichoke Orzo

We came across a great article on the web with some ideas for using the top super foods, Artichokes are one of them; this is some info from that article- followed by a recipe they shared and we adapted in to a meal!
“A study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that artichokes had the highest antioxidant capacity of 40 vegetables and herbs tested. “Like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, artichokes are rich in flavonoids, which help slow the growth of breast and other types of cancer cells in lab studies,” says Dong Moon Shin, M.D., a professor and Frances Kelly Blomeyer chair in cancer research at the Emory Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta. “
4 fresh artichokes
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup red wine
28-ounce can of chopped tomatoes
4 cloves minced garlic
fresh grated parmesan cheese
2 cups cooked orzo pasta
salt and pepper to taste

Boil 4 artichokes for 30 minutes; drain. In the same pot, brown 2 chopped celery stalks, 1 chopped onion, and 1 teaspoon dried oregano in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add 1 cup red wine, a 28-ounce can of chopped tomatoes, and 4 cloves minced garlic. Place artichokes in tomato mixture; spoon mixture over then. Cover and simmer for about 35 minutes or until artichokes are tender. Serve over a bed of orzo pasta topped with grated cheese. Enjoy knowing that you are eating SUPER food!