Archive for the ‘cooking for two’ Category

Fall is officially here. The days are shorter with less sunlight but my tomatoes are still hanging on. In fact the Sun Gold and Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes are STILL going strong and sweet. Of the four types of tomatoes I planted this year, only one type beside the cherry tomatoes produced really sweet tasty fruit. Those were my Marzanos which are still producing one to two-inch flavorful babies. The Romas were a disappointment. They were mild and somewhat mushy in texture.

The plant itself is mondo healthy with massive bushy leaves surrounding prodigious amounts of fruit. I keep finding clusters of beautiful red ripe tomatoes amidst these leaves. I can’t stop hunting and picking them. I feel like a kid on an Easter egg hunt. So what can I do with these less than tasty beauties? I hate to waste what Mother Nature offers me plus I like getting boosts of lycopenes from the tomatoes into my body. I’m into doing everything possible to eat foods that will boost my immune system.

So here’s a couple of remedies for helping bland tomatoes taste better. Like most of my non-baking recipes, measurements are somewhat flexible. If you add more tomatoes and less chicken stock you have a denser soup. Since these Romas were not very sweet I added a few ingredients to boost and adjust flavors. A sprinkling of sugar and a handful of squishy overripe cherry tomatoes helped sweeten the tomatoes to be roasted. The end result was a concentrated rich spread which I served with focaccia bread. I added a couple of thinly sliced carrots to mellow out the acidity in the soup. I also used more tomatoes than stock which resulted in a dense and rich soup punctuated with bites of sweet corn, herby flecks of cilantro and a bright splash of lime juice. It was a mighty nice lunch.

Roasted tomatoes

4 cups tomatoes- cut in half
A light sprinkle of kosher salt -approx. 1/2 to 1 tsp.
Sugar- about 1 tsp for about 4 cups
3-5 sliced garlic
2-3 Tablsp. olive oil
several sprigs of fresh oregano or basil

Toss and roast in large pan at 300 degrees for 4 hours or until there is no more liquid in pan. Can be used for a light pasta sauce with onions and pancetta, in soups, topping for crostini or spread between foccacia with roasted veggies( eggplant, zucchini /goat cheese, pesto.

MexiCali Rose Tomato soup

1 chopped onion
4-5 smashed chopped garlic
2-3 Tablsp. olive oil
1 heaping tsp. cumin powder
1 heaping tsp. coriander powder
1 Tablsp. smoked or regular paprika
1 tsp.oregano leaves
4-6 cups of roughly cut up fresh tomatoes
1 tsp.chopped jalapeno pepper ( take out seeds and connective membrane)
2 large carrots thinly sliced
3-4 cups chicken stock
1 cup diced potatoes
1 cup corn- fresh or frozen
Handful of chopped cilantro stems
fresh lime wedges

Saute onions and garlic in oil till soft. Add cumin, coriander, paprika and oregano and saute over medium heat for 1-2 minutes till aromatic. Add tomatoes and jalapeno pepper. Cook at medium heat till soft. Add carrots,potatoes and chicken stock. Bring to boil, simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Add cilantro and corn. Simmer for 5-10 minutes longer. Add salt to taste. Serve with wedges of fresh lime.

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I’m Back !!! I’ve officially retired from teaching in the classroom. After twenty years teaching kids with learning needs it was time to strike out and spend more time on following my other bliss, writing, cooking, creating new recipes. So many projects, so little time and as I entered my 65th year of life I wanted to make sure I got a couple of these projects done before……… So first on the list was to make a list, prioritize and set goals. Got my private practice as a Learning specialist started. Next was to self publish my book “Tasting Life” a collection of food stories, poems and recipes.** Shameless promoting but that’s what old ladies can get away with these days. Got that done. Now finally, I have the time to work on completing my cookbook and attending to my neglected blog.

In preparation for retirement Larry and I talked about what I wanted to gain from this decision. One major thing was to get healthier, lose weight, exercise more and have the time to complete my writing projects. As my income would be greatly reduced, we planned how we could live on a smaller budget yet still continue to cook and eat delicious meals as well as entertain our friends. We both agreed that we didn’t want to feel deprived when it came to eating. So we started cooking differently and found that we were able save money, eat more healthfully and continue to enjoy delicious meals. I found to my delight that not only was I losing weight but also I was wasting less food in the process. So here’s one thing I’ve learned so far.

Budget and health tip number one. Eat less meat. As a child in a Chinese household, meat was never the main item on the table but was used to accompany vegetables in stir fries. If we did have a roasted chicken, pork or beef we only ate a few pieces alongside the variety of other dishes with vegetables on the table. Back then I was much slimmer and healthier. Over the years after leaving my mother’s kitchen I ate more meat, less vegetables and subsequently gained more weight. Now I’m back to cooking in the style of my mother and I’m finally losing weight and feeling way healthier. Last week I bought a whole roasted chicken from Costco for $4.99. I used just one breast from this roast and made this Southeast Asian chopped salad. Now I’ve got enough leftover meat and bones to make a chicken pot pie for four people, chicken hash for two and enough for curried chicken salad for both of us for lunch. Hmmm, maybe I’ll make some empanadas instead……..

South East Asian chopped chicken salad- 2 large servings

3 cups- sliced romaine lettuce ( 1 inch strips)
handful of arugula
1/2 cup – red onion – sliced thinly
1- medium carrot- cut into julienne slices
3/4 cup cubed cucumbers
1 1/2-2 cups fresh mango*- cut up into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup – chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp.- black pepper
3 Tablespoons FRESH lime juice
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 cup-roasted chicken- cubed into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped or crushed roasted (unsalted) peanuts

1. In a large salad bowl, toss lettuce,arugula, onion, carrots and cucumbers together.
2. Peel mango with vegetable peeler. Cut sides and then cube. Cut off any extra meat off seed and use as well.
2. Add the cut up mango pieces with cilantro to salad .
3. Sprinkle lime juice and black pepper over the mango pieces.
3. Sprinkle soy sauce, fish sauce over mango, salad and toss together.
4. Add chicken, peanuts and toss again.

* I prefer to use the Hayden or Tommy Atkins mangoes. They are firmer than the Manilla type of mangoes and have more meat.
** “Tasting Life” will be available through Amazon in late September.

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