Cacciatore, Hold the Chicken!

16 Aug

Since becoming a vegetarian I learned how to make all kinds of recipes without meat, and this has become a favorite. Summer time in New Jersey means lots of fresh local vegetables including eggplant, peppers and the famous Jersey tomatoes all of which I used in this recipe. Now I know most of you think of New Jersey as crowded and dirty, with bad drivers but in fact, there is a lot of farmland and beautiful rolling hills. We have lots of local farmers markets where we can get everything from local produce to homemade pies. (We are called the Garden State for a reason.)

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This is the perfect summer time pasta dish that is light, has lots of taste and loaded with healthy veggies!

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Just a few notes-I peeled the eggplant, I don’t like the skin but it’s up to you. You can use your favorite mushrooms, I used baby Portobello, just about any kind will do. Finally, instead of the 14 oz can of diced tomatoes I used fresh Jersey tomatoes.

 

Ingredients:

1 lb eggplant, sliced into 1/4 thick slabs

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided

6 oz dried penne pasta

1 lb cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and sliced

1 small onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, any color, sliced into strips

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup crushed tomatoes

2 Tbsp capers

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dry

1/2 tsp dry oregano

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub eggplant slabs with olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake until eggplant are slightly browned and tender, but not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

 

While eggplant is baking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to instructions. Drain when done and return pot, toss with a bit of olive oil. Set aside.

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While eggplant bakes and pasta cooks, coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil and  place over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper, cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes more. Add garlic and sauté’ for another minute. Add wine and bring to a simmer. Allow to cook until liquid is reduced by about half, 3 to 4 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, capers, rosemary, oregano and red pepper flakes to skillet and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and add eggplant, simmer 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Serve over pasta with a salad, crusty bread and a glass of delicious wine!

Thank you to Connoisseurusveg.com for this recipe and the photo of the final dish, mine didn’t look quite as good.

 

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Summer Salad Series III: Hearty Roasted Veggie Salad

28 Jun

This is the perfect salad for a healthy summer meal, the potatoes and chick peas make it a bit heartier than a typical salad. For those of you who need protein you can always add chicken or salmon. And the balsamic dressing for this salad is super simple and really delicious, you should definitely keep it handy and use it for other salads!

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Ingredients-Salad:

12 asparagus spears, ends cut off and cut in half

1 cup red potatoes, quartered

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs balsamic nectar or vinegar

Salt and pepper

2 cups arugula or baby spring greens (I’m not a fan of arugula)

1 avocado, sliced

1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts, halved

1/3 cup canned chick peas, drained and rinsed

Ingredients-Dressing:

4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs balsamic nectar or vinegar

1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pinch of dried oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the potatoes and asparagus in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Roast the potatoes on a baking sheet for 20 minutes, tossing once or twice during that time. Add the asparagus to the potatoes and roast for another 10 minutes. Once the vegetables are done remove from oven, let cool for a bit.

While the vegetables are roasting, whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.

To assemble, grab a nice big bowl; add lettuces, then add the rest of vegetables and sprinkle with the chick peas. Whisk the dressing before drizzling it over the salad and there you have it! Super easy, super healthy and super yummy!

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*Napkin by Patio Fashions

Recipe from Pumpkin and Peanut Butter

Summer Salad Series II: A New Take an Old Stand By…Potato Salad with Green Beans

21 Jun

As much as I love traditional potato salad, it’s always nice to try something new. My husband loves green beans so when I was looking through potato salad recipes and saw this one with green beans I knew it would be a winner. It is so easy and so delicious! Thank you Sweet Little Bluebird for this great recipe!

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Ingredients:

4 cups cooked potatoes, cubed-I used red skinned but you can use whatever you prefer

1 pound green beans, cooked al dente and cut in half

3 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/2 tsp oregano

2 cloves pressed garlic

salt and pepper to taste

1/3 to 1/2 cup dressing-recipe calls for Newman’s Own Olive Oil & Vinegar Dressing, I personally like Ken’s Italian Dressing & Marinade

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss with desired amount of dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste, toss well and refrigerate. Enjoy!

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I added about a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and you could also try adding some mustard, I think I may try that next time! I also added some tomato to my husbands and he loved it!

Summer Salad Series I: Beets with Herb Dressing

29 May

Kicking off the summer with a summer salad series. I love salad and eat it almost everyday, sometimes twice a day. When I go to someone’s house and ask what I can bring, I am always asked to bring the salad because not only do I love to eat salad, I love to make salad. And apparently I’m very good at it!

It’s easy to get in rut and get salad boredem. So each week I will post a new recipe that will broaden your salad horizon and hopefully inspire you to be more creative in the kitchen.

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Ingredients:

3 lbs roasted medium beets, preferably a mix of colors

1 large shallot, minced

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

Salt

Fine grated zest of 1 orange

1/4 cup chopped, fresh flat leaf parsley

1 Tbs chopped, fresh tarragon

1/4 cup chopped, fresh chives

1/4 cup olive oil + 2 Tsb

1/4 cup finely chopped unsalted, roasted pistachios

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut tops off beets and rinse well. Place beets in a bowl, drizzle with  2 Tbs olive oil and toss till well coated. Place beets on a baking sheet lined with tin foil, cover tightly with tin foil. Bake for 1 hour until beets are tender.

Let beets cool.

In the meantime, in a bowl mix the shallots, vinegar and a large pinch of salt. Let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in orange zest, tarragon, parsley, chives and oil. Season with salt to taste, stir well.

Arrange the beets in overlapping rows on platter. Stir dressing and spoon it over the beets. Sprinkle with pistachios and serve!

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*Keep in mind that you can always roast the beets and make the dressing ahead of time and then you can assemble right before you’re ready to serve.

**If you’re like me and you like your salad closer to room temperature, take the beets and dressing out of fridge about an hour before serving so that it’s not too cold.

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine and Top Chef Masters star Naomi Pomeroy

Pinspiration, Inspiration!

7 May

Inspiration can come from anywhere, anything or anyone. I’m am constantly inspired but I must admit that Pinterest can provide lots of inspiration for all kinds of things. I use Pinterest to find recipes, ideas for parties, clothing and so on and on….and now you can even buy that dress you found and have to have! It helps me to see where I need to be with my business, what people like; trends. I love that you can arrange things, add boards and I can add the items I sell from the website. Pinterest is a fabulous business tool. (No, I am not in cahoots with them, this is all me.)

Here are some simple but effective ideas to make your patio gatherings really great that I found on Pinterest.

1. Lighting: those pretty little white lights that everyone loves. String them around your patio or even the patio umbrella for that soft, pretty lighting that feels like you’re in Paris! *The Window Shop

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2. Place settings: Adding a touch of nature to your table setting, like this radish, so sweet and unexpected! *Better Homes and Gardens

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3. Unusual ice bucket: Use a wheel barrow, a wagon, a large tin tub for a bit of whimsy and fun. It does the job and looks really cool! * Style Me Pretty

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4. Fruity/Floral Ice Cubes: So easy and so pretty! What an impact something so small can make. Add fruit, herbs or even edible flower petals to ice cubes. They look so pretty in a glass of sangria or seltzer! *Kidsdigne

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5. Chambray: A chambray tablecloth or runner with chambray napkins. who doesn’t love chambray? I know I do, so I decided to use chambray this season. Coming soon to you, by me and Patio Fashions…stay tuned!

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*Chambray Photo thisisnotsonew

Long Overdue-Small Business Reality

26 Apr

Hello all! I’m back. It has been 5 months since my last post and I apologize. It has been a bit crazy in my life and I was suffering from a creative block. We are renovating our house while living in it, my mother was moved into a nursing home, we adopted 2 more goats for a total of 4 and I am working on getting my Patio Fashions business off the ground…all while working full time.

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I love having a busy life. I love trying new things. I love life. I am now finding balance and I am ready to dive into this blog and my business. I hope you will continue to join me  on my journey of food, entertaining and fun!

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Photos by: Kimbrough Daniels

Real Homemade Green Bean Casserole

20 Nov

With Thanksgiving only a few days away I thought it totally appropriate to share my recipe for homemade green bean casserole. Now it’s not that I don’t like the Campbell’s version, but I have given up processed foods and quite frankly it is much better with fresh ingredients. Some people roll their eyes when I say we’re having green bean casserole, to me it is a must have on my table for the holidays!

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Ingredients

2 Tbsp salt

1 1/2 lbs green beans, rinsed with ends trimmed

2 Tbsp butter

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz package baby bella mushrooms, chopped

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

2 Tbsp flour

1 cup vegetable broth

1 cup half and half

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

6 oz french fried onions

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Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9″x 13″ baking dish and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with the 2 Tbsp of salt. Add green beans and boil for 5 minutes. Drain the green beans in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion stirring occasionally until the onion begins to soften, then add garlic. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook till mushrooms begin to soften.

Sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine. Add vegetable broth and stir well. Add half and half and simmer until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from heat and add green beans, stir until well combined. Transfer mixture to casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs and then french fried onions.

Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes until bubbly. Serve and enjoy!

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FYI…I don’t use the bread crumbs, not a fan.

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