Category Archives: tomatoes

Tossed and Well Dressed

As warm weather returns, so do the salads. A delicious salad topped with protein (boiled egg, grilled chicken meat, cheese) makes a filling meal that doesn’t heat up the kitchen. But salads are time consuming to make. Here are my shortcuts for hasty tasty salads.

  1. Chop, wash, and spin a big bowl of your greens. I usually buy Romaine because it keeps longer than other varieties of lettuce, but buy what you like.
  2. Make carrot ribbons from 2 carrots using a spiral vegetable slicer or a peeler. Toss with the greens.
  3. Chop 3 ribs of celery and mix with the lettuce and carrot ribbons. Seal and refrigerate.
  4. Boil 5-6 eggs, peel, and refrigerate.
  5. Cook 2-3 chicken breasts (I use the pressure cooker, but use whatever method works for you), chop, and store in a sealed container. Refrigerate. Or keep deli meats handy in the refrigerator.Your choice.
  6. Make a cruet of your favorite homemade dressing. I prefer a simple vinaigrette, but even mixing up a Good Seasons mix is better than buying a bottled brand because you choose your ingredients. Refrigerate.
  7. Grate a wedge of your favorite hard cheese (I like Parmesan) and store in the fridge.Already shredded cheese is fine, but freshly grated has better flavor.
  8. Wash several tomatoes and store in a basket in a cool, dry place in your kitchen. Do not refrigerate unless tomatoes get too ripe.
  9. Congratulations! You now have the makings of at least 5 chef salads you can pull together within minutes.

 

This is my salad, but you may use any variety of ingredients in yours. The secret to hasty tasty salad meals is advance preparation. Assembling the prepped ingredients into a tasty salad takes mere minutes. Enjoy!100_1354

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Filed under chicken, eggs, Healthful Eating, Salads, tomatoes

Your Garden-Variety Dinner

Some of my fondest memories of my father are of our runs together. One day, a couple of years before he died, we stopped near the end of our run at a neighborhood produce stand. Dad bought an assortment of fresh vegetables grown right there in the man’s backyard. I promised to cook whatever he bought. He spent about six bucks, total, and my family sat and ate as if it was Thanksgiving dinner.

We love vegetables, especially locally grown, fresh produce. Our favorite summer dinner is a fresh-from-the-garden vegetable plate. If you haven’t taken advantage of the produce grown in your area, now is the time to indulge.

Don’t restrict your menu. Plan your meals around what looks good and fresh, even if you have two or three green veggies. Corn on the cob, Squash, potatoes, beans, broccoli, tomatoes…it’s all better when fresh-picked. Steam, grill, roast, sauté, or all the above. It’s healthy, tasty, and good for the local economy.

Green beans, roasted potatoes, and vegetable medley, served with a whole wheat roll.

Green beans, roasted potatoes, and vegetable medley with a whole wheat roll.

KITCHEN TIP: Add a little bit of butter for flavor. A tiny amount goes a long way. I freeze butter and use a hand grater to add it to cooked vegetables. Isn’t that a grate idea? 😉

Grate cold butter for easier seasoning.

Grate cold butter for easier seasoning.

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Filed under cooking, corn on the cob, Green Beans, Healthful Eating, onions, Quesadillas, Roasted Vegetables, Salads, spinach, tomatoes, Vegetables

Salsa Time!

I’ve posted in the past about making salsa in my Vitamix. Today I have a special guest who offers a flavorful twist to salsa. As soon as I pick up a fresh bunch of cilantro, I’m making this recipe. I grow my own jalapeño peppers and herbs but fail miserably at keeping cilantro alive. 😦

Today’s recipe is a guest post by Kristin, a writer for PAM and other ConAgra brands. She resides in Chicago, IL and enjoys trying new recipes on the weekends. Her favorite dishes include poached eggs in the morning, throw-whatever-is-in-the-fridge salads for lunch, and vegetable-heavy stir fries for dinner. She’s always on the hunt for unexpected yet delicious food combinations.  Please welcome food blogger Kristin Kruk:

salsaAugust
August is the Sunday of summer. Friends and family are making the most out of their last few weeks of sunshine and blue skies before fall kicks in. When you get an invitation to that last minute summer barbeque, come prepared with a zesty appetizer to surprise everyone’s taste buds. Bring a bowl of grilled tomato salsa with a bag of your favorite tortilla chips as an appetizer to the party.

On a time crunch? Don’t worry about grilling outside. A cast iron pan will do the trick because it gets hot and retains heat.

How to grill inside:

  1. Evenly spray PAM Grilling Spray on the cast iron pan.
  2. Place pan on stove top on medium-high.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low once the pan gets hot.

Now you’re on your way to a quick grilled tomato salsa!

Ingredients:

  • PAM Grilling Spray
  • 1½-2 pounds of tomatoes (try an assortment), sliced in half
  • 1 jalapeño , sliced in half
  • 5 green (or red) onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Optional ingredients: ½ can of black beans or corn kernels 

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix cumin, garlic salt, onions and cilantro. If optional ingredients were used, combine as well. Set aside.
  2. See “How to grill inside” instructions above.
  3. Once the burner is set to medium-low, grill tomato and jalapeño slices.
  4. Rotate so each side is grilled for 3 minutes. When each side is slightly blackened, remove from grill.
  5. Chop tomato and jalapeño slices into cubes. Dump into the medium bowl (Step 1).
  6. Refrigerate until ready for use.

This quick and simple appetizer complements any picnic or outdoor outing at the end of summer. Enjoy!

(Cheryl note: I do all my indoor grilling on a Lodge cast iron grill pan (sprayed with PAM). It’s affordable, retains heat, and leaves nice grill marks on food–just like an outdoor grill but without the mess!)

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Filed under Appetizers, Cilantro, condiments, Healthful Eating, Mexican, Recipes, salsa, tomatoes, Vegetables

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli

Not only is pasta e fagioli hasty and tasty, it’s inexpensive and healthful.  Also known as pasta fazool, this dish provides plenty of protein and fiber because it contains beans, vegetables, and whole wheat pasta. The tomatoes and Italian seasonings give it great flavor. Try this dish for your next meat-free meal.

RECIPE

PASTA E FAGIOLI
Ingredients:

  • 1 14 oz. can chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning spice
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 15½ oz. can cannellini or navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup frozen seasoning blend (Chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, parsley)
  • ½ cup whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • (Optional: ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn, for garnish)

Directions:
In a 2 quart saucepan, heat the broth over medium heat. Stir in garlic, seasoning blend, Italian spices, tomato sauce and paste. Bring to a low boil.
Add beans, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add macaroni, cover and simmer for 7 additional minutes.
Remove pan from heat, stir, and check macaroni. Should be cooked al dente.
Sprinkle each serving generously with the Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh basil, if desired.

Yield: 3 servings

©2011 Cheryl Norman, Recipes for Recovery

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Filed under Basil, beans, Healthful Eating, pasta, Soups & Stews, tomatoes, Vegetables, whole wheat

Fiesta Salad

This dish has many names from Nacho Salad or Taco Salad to Frito® Pie. I call mine Fiesta Salad and have made it many times. It’s a crowd pleaser, and my version is a bit healthier than the original.

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RECIPE

Fiesta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. lean ground turkey
  • 1 Tbsp. chili seasoning or taco seasoning mix
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • (optional) 1 jalepeño pepper, thinly sliced and/or diced
  • 1½ cups skim milk
  • 1 cup shredded Colby cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • ½ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 bag Tostitos baked tortilla corn chips

Directions:

  1. Brown ground turkey in a large skillet over medium heat, separating often to avoid clumping.
  2. While turkey cooks, heat the milk in a second skillet or 2-quart pan over medium-low heat.
  3. Sprinkle chili seasonings over the ground turkey, stir, then cover to keep warm.
  4. In the bottom of each of four large soup bowls, crumble a serving (approx. 24 chips) tortilla chips.
  5. Top each bowl of chips with approximately 1/2 pound (or 1/4) the cooked ground turkey.
  6. Cover the ground turkey with 1/4 the shredded lettuce.
  7. Top lettuce with 1/4 the chopped onions, tomatoes, and sliced (optional) jalapeño pepper.
  8. To the heated milk, stir in each of the shredded cheeses until blended.
  9. Pour a fourth (about 1/2 cup) of the cheese sauce over each fiesta salad.
  10. Serve immediately. Makes four servings

Variation: Make the cheese sauce in the Vitamix. Heat milk and add to the container. Secure lid. Begin on Variable Speed 1 and slowly increase speed to 10 then High. Remove the plug from the Vitamix lid and gradually add the grated cheeses. When cheese sauce is ready, turn off the Vitamix and pour sauce over the Fiesta Salads directly from the container.

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Filed under Healthful Eating, Mexican, Recipes, Salads, tomatoes, Turkey Recipes

Salsa Reloaded

Salsa has become the #1 favorite condiment in American households, and no wonder! It’s delicious, healthful, and versatile. I get a lot of e-mail about salsa, and there are many varieties.

Homemade salsa is so much better than jarred, even if you use canned tomatoes as I did in an earlier post. It’s easy to make it fresh, especially if you use a Vita-mix. Here’s another salsa recipe:


RECIPE
Ingredients:
4 ripe plum (or Roma) tomatoes, cut in half
½ sweet onion (Vidalia if available), cut in half
1 clove garlic
½ jalapeño pepper, seeded*
 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp. sweetener
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
½  cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in the Vita-mix container and pulse on low (setting 3 or 4) just until blended. Use the tamper to push food into the blades. The process takes only a few seconds. Don’t overblend unless you prefer picante sauce instead of chunky salsa.

Refrigerate. Keeps for 4-5 days.

*If you like hot salsa, use the entire jalapeño pepper, seeds and all. For mild salsa, substitute a milder pepper for the jalapeño. Be sure to wear plastic or rubber gloves when removing the seeds and membranes of a jalapeño (or any hot) pepper.

 

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I typically add cilantro but didn’t have any the day I made these photos. Tasted just as good, so I now declare cilantro “Optional.”

©2011 Cheryl Norman

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Filed under Cilantro, Healthful Eating, Recipes, salsa, tomatoes

Olé for Salsa

Homemade salsa is so much better than jarred, but it can get expensive, especially if tomato prices are high. Here is a compromise. Try it. You’ll like it!

 
RECIPE
Ingredients:

1 15-oz can stewed tomatoes (Reduced Sodium), drained
½ (or to taste) cup fresh cilantro leaves
juice of one lime
1 sweet onion (Vidalia if available), quartered
1 clove garlic, minced
½ jalapeño pepper, seeded*
pinch of salt
 

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender (I use the Vita-mix) and pulse until blended. Don’t overblend or you’ll have picante sauce. 🙂 Refrigerate. Keeps for 4-5 days.
 

*If you like mild salsa, substitute a milder pepper for the jalapeño. Be sure to wear plastic or rubber gloves when removing the seeds and membranes of a jalapeño (or any hot) pepper, a lesson I learned the hard way!

 

Don’t underestimate canned tomatoes. They are a bargain and come in many varieties. Try to find the cans marked “Low Sodium” if possible. Then you control the salt in your recipes.

©2011 Cheryl Norman

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Filed under Cilantro, Healthful Eating, Recipes, salsa, tomatoes