Posts tagged tomatoes

Easy No-Cook Noodle Lasagna

Lasagna Kit box

We’ve been hovering around freezing temps here in the Midwest so I’ve been on the hunt for recipes that heat up my house–and my tummy. Red Gold sent me a Lasagna Kit so that I can try out their version of this comfort food staple. I’m already a fan of Red Gold tomatoes–they’re grown here in the region in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana, and they hold that just-picked flavor of tomatoes even when there’s a foot of snow outside.

 

I tweaked Red Gold’s Easy Classic Lasagna recipe to make my own version–I usually add an egg to the ricotta cheese to thin it out when I’m putting it into the uncooked lasagna and it helps hold the cheese in place once the dish is cooked. I can’t help but add a little heat to my lasagna, too–if you’re not a spice girl, feel free to leave off the extra kick of cayenne pepper.

 

To find more recipe ideas you can check out Red Gold’s other lasagna varieties. I have the Eggplant Florentine on my list to try soon since Mr. Squid loves eggplant.

Lasagna

Recipe

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup water

1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes

2 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning

1-2 cloves garlic, diced

1 pound cooked Italian sausage

1 16-oz. box lasagna noodles

1 15-oz. carton ricotta

1 egg

1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning (I used 1 tbsp. fresh, chopped basil)

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (opt.)

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Use a handheld immersion blender to mix together the tomatoes, garlic, and water in a large bowl (or you can place these in a blender). In another bowl, whisk together the egg with the ricotta cheese and the Italian seasoning along with the cayenne pepper, if using. Now it’s time to assemble your lasagna!
  2. Generously coat a 9×13″ baking pan with baking spray. Spread 1 1/2 cups sauce on the bottom of the pan. Arrange 1/3 of the uncooked noodles over the sauce. It’s fine to overlap a little.
  3. Next, smear 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles (they’ll wiggle around a little, just put them back in place). Top with 1/2 of the sausage, sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
  4. Drizzle 1 cup tomato sauce over the cheese then top with another layer of pasta noodles.
  5. Repeat the steps above: ricotta, sausage, cheese, sauce, noodles.
  6. Pour the remaining sauce on the final layer of noodles then sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan.
  7. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour; remove foil and cook for another 1/2 hour or until the top is golden. Let the lasagna stand for 10-15 minutes before you cut into it.

Your turn: What’s your favorite tweak to classic lasagna?

 

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Red Gold Tomatoes Giveaway!

Red Gold tomatoesCanned tomatoes make the perfect base for pasta sauces and salsas. But have you ever tried spiking your burgers with extra flavor courtesy of canned tomatoes before throwing them on the grill?

 

Red Gold wants you to give it a try so they’re giving away a grilling care package complete with two aprons (appropriately in red), and a 5 pack of canned tomatoes and barbecue sauce. Interested?

 

Enter the Red Gold Tomatoes Giveaway by leaving a comment below. Want to increase your chances of winning? Share this post with your friends on Facebook for an extra entry.

 

You can also enter Red Gold’s sweepstakes for a chance to get your own Green Egg Ceramic Grill & Smoker.

 

This contest ends Friday, August 9th at midnight, EST so enter today!

 

*The prize package is available to U.S. residents only through Red Gold. As part of the promotion I received a sample of Red Gold tomatoes.

 

 

 

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Moroccan rice

Moroccan riceYup, I cracked my tangine yesterday. And yes, it was my first time using it. Sigh. A tangine is a traditional Moroccan cooking dish that has a cone top that helps slow cook and steam the food inside. Well, I’m still working out the kinks with how exactly you cook using it. But for now my good ‘ol dutch oven seems to do the trick.

I tweaked my favorite Mexican rice recipe to capture the flavors of Morocco for the dish I served with shrimp.

 

Recipe

Prep time: 20 minutes + 15 minutes cooking

Servings: 4-6

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups rice

1/4 cup oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup canned chopped tomatoes

1/3 cup yellow and/or red pepper, chopped

1/2 small onion

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 tsp. tumeric

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. white pepper

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (or regular)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 pinch of cinnamon (opt.)

Fresh cilantro and parsley

2 tbsp. golden raisins

Fresh lemon wedges

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed dutch oven, bring the oil up to medium-high heat.
  3. Rinse the rice in water to remove excess starch and then add it to the hot oil.
  4. Heat the rice for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden.
  5. Meanwhile, in a blender, place the tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices, and pepper and pulse until pureed.
  6. Add the tomato mixture to the golden rice and cook for 4 minutes or until the color of the tomato deepens.
  7. Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  8. Cover and bake for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed.
  9. Add in the raisins, if using.

 

Kids’ reactions: This dish was a winner. My tween even took the leftovers to school for lunch. I made a wrap for my teen with some of the rice, avocado slices, deli turkey, and Sriracha sauce.

 

 

 

 

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Moroccan shrimp

Whoops. I guess I'll need to return my tangine.

Whoops. I guess I’ll need to return my tangine.

For my birthday, my hubby surprised me with a Moroccan tangine. It’s a baking dish with a high, cone-shaped lid (not pictured) that traps the cooking liquid and infuses the food inside with the flavor.

 

Yeah, I managed to crack it the first time I tried cooking with it. (In my defense, it didn’t come with any seasoning or cooking instructions.) Well, I’m now researching how to season and cook the right way with the tangine. But I still had all of my ingredients ready to go so I made this Moroccan shrimp dish in a skillet, instead of a tangine. I used a recipe I found on The Food Republic as a base and then tweaked it to mirror the flavors of a dish a Moroccan friend of mine made for me years ago.

 

 

Recipe

I plate the shrimp with purple kale, just cuz

I plated the shrimp with purple kale, just cuz

 

Prep time: 20 minutes + 20 minutes cooking

Servings: 4-5

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, tails and shells removed

2 tbsp. oil (I used grapeseed)

1/2 cup chopped canned tomatoes

1 raw tomato, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. tumeric

1 tsp. smoked paprika (or regular) + more for sprinkling

1/4 tsp. white pepper

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

2 tbsp. parsley, chopped

2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped

2 tbsp. chicken broth

1 lemon, sliced

 

Directions:

  1. Puree the tomatoes, tumeric, paprika, and garlic in a blender.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed skillet (no idea yet if this would also work in a tangine), bring the oil to medium-high heat.
  3. Add the tomato mixture to the hot oil and cook until the tomato color begins to darken (from bright orange to red), about 4 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp into the tomato mixture and sprinkle with cumin, cayenne, white pepper, and fresh herbs. Cook for 3 minutes or until shrimp just begins to turn pink.
  5. Place the lemon slices on top of the shrimp. Pour over the chicken broth, then cover the skillet.
  6. Cook for 5 minutes until the shrimp is heated through and tender.
  7. Add additional spices, if necessary (I like to add more smoked paprika and cayenne).
  8. Serve over plain rice or Moroccan rice (recipe coming tomorrow).

 

Kids’ reactions: Thumbs up and clean plates all around. I would definitely make this again EXCEPT Mr. Squid seems to be having bad reactions to shrimp lately so I’m not sure whether we’ll have to cut out shrimp for awhile or altogether:(.

 

 

 

 

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Easy tomato salsa using a molcajete

My formula for stress relief at the end of a long day: break out the molcajete and make some salsa. That’s what I did last night.

A molcajete is pretty much a the Mexican version of a mortar and pestle with Aztec origins. Mine came from a side street market in Mexico City and weighs 10 pounds (thank goodness my husband got it before the airlines started charging you to check your bags).

Made of volcanic rock, the molcajete’s porous surface absorbs the flavors of what has been ground in it before. So the garlic rub you might have used to start off a salsa a month ago will leave hints of flavor in the guacamole you make today; every batch is entirely unique.

For instructions on how to season your molcajete you can check out my post on Wandering Educators.

To create a basic tomato salsa at home using a molcajete here’s what you need:

Recipe

Time to mash the garlic

Prep time: 15 minutes (depending on how hard you grind)

Servings: 4

Ingredients

3 Roma tomatoes, chopped into slices* (See note)

2 slices onion

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1 garlic clove, peeled

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (or 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds)

Then the onions...

1 lime

Peppers (you can use whatever kind of heat your family prefers–cayenne powder, fresh serrano peppers, jalapenos)

Directions

  1. Place the cumin and garlic in the molcajete bowl. Grind into a paste using the hand tool.
  2. Next, grind the pepper of your choice in the molcajete bowl. I often use dried chiles, but fresh is great too.
  3. Add the tomatoes, onion, and cilantro to the molcajete and start grinding. (My kids have fun doing this).
  4. Mix in salt to taste and serve at your table in the molcajete.

salsa ready to serve

*Note: Many salsa recipes call for you to remove the tomato skins before grinding. I’ve found that the skin comes off during the process and you can take it out easily. Another option is to use drained, canned tomatoes. These work well, especially the roasted variety.

Your turn: Have you ever used a molcajete? What about a mortar and pestle?


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What to do with 10 pounds of tomatoes

“You can get a deal if you buy a box,” a woman offered as I was picking over Roma tomatoes at one of my favorite local grocers, Miles Market. For $5 you could buy a 10-pound box of slightly bruised Romas. I debated. Lately I’ve been trying to trim my grocery bill by planning my dinners a week ahead of time and making sure that whatever I buy, I use. But to get a whole box of Romas for the price I usually pay for a few? I caved and bought the box. Now I’m quickly trying to use every last tomato.

Here are a few of the things I’ve been cooking to make it through all of my tomatoes:

Simple marinara: I blended 20 cut tomatoes with 2 large cloves garlic and 1 cup fresh basil then I added it to a pan of about 4 tablespoons heated olive oil. I simmered the sauce for about 20 minutes then added a dash of cayenne pepper. I served this over pasta with fresh Parmesan cheese. Simple, tasty. I froze the extra sauce.

Homemade enchilada sauce: Instead of adding canned tomatoes to my homemade enchilada sauce, I added in fresh ones. Usually I’d roast and seed the tomatoes but this time I just threw them in skins, seeds, and all.

Tomato Chutney: This yummy recipe from Attainable Sustainable uses plenty of ripe tomatoes; it cans well too.

Chipotle Pico de Gallo: Fresh salsa anyone? The only drawback to pico de gallo and my stack of tomatoes is that this salsa doesn’t keep.

Roasted Tomato-Arbol Salsa: Roasted tomatoes are the key to a really great salsa so I was going to make this one from Rick Bayless. I’m adding some ancho chiles along with the arbol. Plus, this salsa will keep in the refrigerator for days. I’ll be tripling the batch, then freezing some.

Caprese salad: My tomatoes might be getting a bit too squishy for this, but I love caprese salad with its slices of fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil and a drizzling of olive oil. Looking at Frugal Kiwi’s post this week about mozzarella, I’ve really been wanting to give cheese making a try. For now, I’m making caprese omelets where my quickly ripening tomatoes are just perfect.

Your turn–what would make with 10 pounds of ripe tomatoes?

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Mexican rice

Continuing with dishes to make to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day tomorrow, here’s my favorite version of Mexican rice.

The ingredients behind good Mexican rice may sound almost like you’re making a pico de gallo—tomatoes, onions, cilantro, garlic. But instead of dipping chips into a chunky salsa, you puree the tomatoes and other ingredients and add them to the rice after you’ve sautéed it in oil. Each of these steps guarantees that each rice kernel will get coated in seasoning and have that bright red color.

This recipe is based on one I discovered in The America’s Test Kitchen: Family Cookbook, one of my favorite cookbooks. But I’ve made quite a few changes to make it even faster and easier to put together. The original recipe calls for you to cut up fresh tomatoes, seed jalapenos. When I’ve done that I always seem to end up with either too much jalapeno—meaning the rice is way too spicy to eat or there’s not enough oomph with the jalapeno (but I still had to get chile juice underneath my nails after getting them prepped for the recipe). I bypass all those steps by using canned tomatoes with green chiles. The milder chiles have the perfect balance of spice.

Recipe

Prep time: 20 minutes + baking

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

2 10-ounce cans sliced tomatoes and green chiles

1 small onion, peeled, quartered

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves

2 cups chicken broth (or water)

2 cups rice

1/2 teaspoon salt

fresh cilantro (optional)

¾ cups peas (canned or frozen, thawed optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse the rice with water to remove the starch.
  3. On the stovetop in a heavy-bottomed pan bring the oil to a medium-high heat.
  4. Add the rice and cook until the rice is no longer translucent (about 5 minutes).
  5. In a blender or food processor, mix the tomatoes, salt, onion and garlic.
  6. Carefully pour the tomato puree into the rice, cook for 3 minutes then add in the chicken broth.
  7. Bring the rice mixture to a boil and then place it in the oven for 20 minutes. (Alternatively, you can cook the rice on the stovetop.)
  8. Remove the rice from the oven, checking to make sure all of the liquid is absorbed. Add in the peas and cilantro and fluff with a fork.
  9. Serve with lime wedges to drizzle on top.
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Caprese omelet

We’re trying to have veggie dinners at least once a week around here. The bounty of fresh vegetables certainly helps. That, and having friends with gardens who drop by their extras. Yesterday a surplus of ripe tomatoes and basil gave me an idea for dinner: My kids like caprese salad, which is simply fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. To make that a meal I added the cheese into an omelet and chopped the tomatoes and basil to serve on top. I used fontina cheese instead of mozzarella since it melts better and has a stronger flavor, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Also, I like a little meltiness in the inside of the omelet so I added a bit of American cheese. If you’re not an American cheese fan, you don’t have to include it. Another addition: sauteed portobello mushrooms. I cooked them in a basil oil to bring out even more of the herb’s flavor; regular olive oil is fine too.


Recipe

Per serving, ingredients

2 eggs

1/4 shredded Fontina cheese

1 slice deli American cheese

1/2 tomato, diced

4 basil leaves, minced

handful shredded fresh Parmesan cheese

Directions

Whisk the eggs together and add salt and pepper to taste.

In a large saute pan bring 1 teaspoon olive oil or butter to medium high heat.

Pour the eggs into the pan and just when it starts to heat through add the cheeses, and mushrooms if you’re using them, in the center (except for the Parmesan).

Once the cheese melts, slide the cooked eggs gently off the plate, folding them over twice or once, depending on how you like your omelet.

Add sliced tomato, basil and Parmesan cheese on top. Serve immediately.

Your turn–have you had any good veggie meals lately you care to share?

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Turkey Picadillo–A New Take on Tacos

Never heard of picadillo? I hadn’t either until Mr. Squid, who spent two years in Mexico, got me hooked on this meat and potatoes dish. I mean, literally meat and potatoes.

Picadillo, not to be confused with pico de gallo, is a South American dish that’s made just a little bit differently depending on where you have it. The Cuban version is studded with raisins and olives (no potatoes), other countries include hard-broiled eggs.

But the Mexican version is the one I like.

As I’ve been trying to get my family to eat just a bit healthier, picadillo has become one of our go-to dishes (promise, it’s not a New Year’s resolution thing, it’s more of a my-kids-are-all-in-basketball-now-and-can’t-stop-eating-so-it-better-be-good-for-them thing). It’s fast and easy. Plus, it’s packed with fresh ingredients–and it heats up beautifully on day 2.

Making the dish is pretty simple too. You cook ground meat, add chopped, boiled potatoes and then pour in a fresh tomato sauce. Let it simmer while you toast corn tortillas–that’s it.

Now before I get into the recipe, I’ve gotta make a plea here–please no hard taco shells, unless you’re frying them yourself (which would definitely blow the calorie count for the dish). Instead, toast corn tortillas one at a time–if you’re lucky enough to have a gas stovetop this should go quickly. The flavor of toasted corn tortillas is so unlike the hard taco shells and even very different than if you simply heat up the tortillas instead of toasting. And it’s better for you too. Okay, enough convincing, here’s the recipe…

Turkey Picadillo

Ingredients

1.5 pounds ground turkey

3 medium-sized potatoes

4 medium-sized tomatoes

1 large onion

1-2 cloves garlic

1/2 serrano chile pepper (optional)

cilantro (optional)

limes (optional)

corn tortillas

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove.
  2. Wash and peel the potatoes.
  3. Dice the potatoes into small pieces and cook them in the water until they’re soft.
  4. Cut up the tomatoes and onions in large pieces. Place the tomatoes and onions in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth (along with the chile pepper and a handful of cilantro, if you’re using them). Set aside.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon canola oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is heated, add the ground turkey.
  6. Once the meat is cooked through add the potatoes and the tomato mixture. Let the ingredients simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.
  7. Toast 2 to 3 corn tortillas for each person. (Keep them heated by placing in either a tortilla warmer or in a clean kitchen cloth).
  8. To serve place a heaping 1/2 cup of the picadillo on each person’s plate and put the tortillas and cut limes on the table (alternatively, you can fill each corn tortilla and serve it that way).
  9. I sometimes serve picadillo tacos with chopped tomatoes, lettuce and cheese. But most often, we eat them plain with just a little bit of lime juice squeezed on top.

Along with trimming calories at the dinner table, check out these simple ideas for giving your family a healthy makeover. I’ve been looking through the site as part of the Motherboard team. Once a week, I’ll be posting about the exciting things not to miss on the their site, and their affiliates.

What about you? Are you trying to eat just a little bit better–and looking to convince your family to do the same?

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Slow’s Bar BQ Hickory Blackened Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

Ingredients

8 tomatoes
3 red bell peppers
1 jalapeno
1 tbl spn salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper
1 cup water
juice of three limes
fresh cilantro for garnish
hickory chips or small logs (substitute other woods to experiment with flavor)
Directions

Start by lighting your coals. It’s best to use a chimney starter so you don’t impart the flavor of lighter fluid.  When your coals are nearing white hotness, apply the dry chips of logs.  You’re trying to create more fire than smoke.  When the flames are licking the grill, apply the clean dry tomatoes and peppers.  Turn them for several minutes until their skin is black to the point of crisping.  Remove the tomatoes and peppers and place them in a bowl.  Close the grill to put out the fire.  While you’re finishing the soup, your grill will be ready for your next course.  Continue by removing most of the skins, leaving a little for flavor. Remove the seeds and stem of the peppers, being careful to save the juice. Stem the tomatoes. Transfer all ingredients to a blender and puree until the desired consistency.  Serve warm or chilled with a garnish of fresh cilantro.

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