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Archive for the ‘Tomatoes’ Category

Sweet Corn Relish


Looking for as easy way to make your own corn relish?  I’ve got you covered with my mother’s recipe for Sweet Corn Relish.  If you have an upcoming family reunion or BBQ, be sure and try this recipe.  The best part is you can make it ahead to save you time in the kitchen.

Sweet Corn Relish
3 ears of fresh sweet corn
2 plum tomatoes
1 small red onion
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup sweet pickle relish
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons celery seeds
Salt & pepper, to taste

Start by husking the corn and removing all the fine silky threads. Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds with your finger. Chop the onion up finely and gather up the rest of the ingredients to have ready.

Bring a pot of water to boil, add a pinch of salt and cook the corn for approximately 2 minutes. Drain and remove the kernels from the cob using a paring knife or a small chefs knife.

Once you have all the kernels off, combine them with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix everything together. Taste and adjust seasoning with the salt and pepper.

Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. This should make about 3 cups of relish and can last in the fridge for up to 5 days.

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Pepper Jelly

My mother and I make Jalapeno Pepper Jelly every year to give to friends during the holidays.  Straight out of our garden we pick  peppers and prepare the kitchen for jelly making.  This takes quite a bit of time, but is worth the wait.  You can find the recipe we use here.

Most folks only know one way to consume this delicate and spicy jelly- with cream cheese and crackers.  Yes, that is one of my favorite ways as well, but there are a lot of other options to be aware of.  Such as using the jelly as a marinade or basting sauce for pork and chicken.  Pepper Jelly is perfect with grilled meat – give it a whirl this weekend.

You can find many local farmers selling Pepper Jelly at area markets, made from peppers from their own gardens.  Ask your farmers what their favorite way to use Pepper Jelly is- I bet they can provide a wealth of knowledge.

Here is one of my mother’s favorite recipes that uses her homemade jelly as a baste.

Jalapeño Pepper Jelly Glazed Chicken with Corn and Zucchini
Recipe from 1997 Gourmet

6 plum tomatoes (about 1 pound)
1 pound zucchini
1 cup packed fresh coriander sprigs
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 cups fresh corn (from about 3 ears)
2 tablespoons jalapeño pepper jelly
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets
2 tablespoons cream cheese

Prepare grill.

Seed and chop tomatoes and cut zucchini into 1/2-inch pieces. Finely chop coriander. In a heavy skillet cook onion in oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, corn, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

While corn mixture is simmering, prepare chicken. In a small saucepan melt jelly over moderate heat, stirring, and remove pan from heat. Stir in lemon juice and chili powder and divide jelly mixture between 2 small bowls (to prevent the potential contamination caused by uncooked meat juices). Pat chicken dry and brush with jelly mixture from 1 bowl. Season chicken with salt and grill on an oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals until just cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side. With a clean brush, coat chicken with jelly mixture from other bowl.

Stir cream cheese into corn mixture until melted and stir in coriander and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve corn mixture topped with chicken.

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We celebrated my father’s 68th birthday this weekend – it’s bewilders me to say that my father is 68 years old. I still look at him like he is my young father and it’s hard to imagine that he will turn seventy soon.

But, he might be 68 years old – and acts like a kid.  He keeps active on our family farm, could probably out walk me and kicks back for a good laugh constantly.  He says, “keep your mind young,” which he does do.  And, “keep your body healthy,” which he also does.  Eating out of our large garden and reaping what he and my mother sow.

I prepared a celebration dinner for him which included: filet mignon, roasted squash and zucchini with feta, grilled sweet corn with a spicy chipotle sauce, grilled eggplant and tomato stacks and southern red velvet cake.  It was quite a feast for us all!

Below you can find the recipe for the eggplant and tomato stacks, which I found from EatingWell.com.  This is a great site if you are looking for fresh and healthy recipes that taste amazing.

Grilled Eggplant and Tomato Stacks from Eating Well

Grilled Eggplant and Tomato Stacks
from Eatingwell.com
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium eggplant (3/4-1 pound), cut into 6 rounds about 1/2 inch thick
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
6 teaspoons prepared pesto
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, each cut into 3 slices about 3/4 inch thick
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 6 thin slices
6 fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat grill to medium-high or place a grill pan over medium-high heat until hot.

Use 2 teaspoons oil to brush both sides of eggplant slices; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Grill the eggplant slices for 5 minutes. Turn; continue grilling until tender and marked with grill lines, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a large platter.

Spread each eggplant slice with 1 teaspoon pesto. Top with a slice of tomato, a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf.

Drizzle vinegar and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over the towers; sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 2, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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Heirloom Tomatoes from the Farmers Market

It’s tomato season and farmers markets are busting with colorful arrays of tomato varieties.  I’m going to be sharing secrets to finding the perfect tomato and I’ve got a tomato dish that is simply delish.

How to Buy Tomatoes
-Don’t worry about tomatoes with weird shapes. Even cracked skin is okay, but leaking juice and soft spots are not.
-Choose tomatoes that feel heavy for their size.
-Smell Tomatoes should smell earthy and tomato-y, never musty or flat
-Taste This is where farmers market shopping really pays off – you can often taste the tomatoes before you buy them.

How to Store Tomatoes
Treat tomatoes gently. Heirloom tomato varieties, in particular, tend to be quite fragile. So don’t pile the tomatoes in a bag where their weight will squash one another, and always pluck vine-ripening tomatoes off their vines (or the vine stem off them) to avoid having the sharp vines poke holes in your precious cargo. But above all never refrigerate tomatoes (one of the biggest mistakes many make). Temperatures under 50° turn tomatoes mushy and mealy.

Now that we know how to choose tomatoes and store them properly – let’s get cooking!

One of my go-to’s in the kitchen for an easy recipe is always homemade tomato sauce.  And, making your own homemade sauce is simple and healthier- as the canned and jarred stuff (which is okay for a substitution occasionally) is full of added preservatives. 

1.) Get Your Tomatoes Started
Both large and small tomatoes work great for sauces – like beefsteak and plum.  First, you will need to remove the skins of the tomatoes.  The easiest way to do this would be to par boil them.  On the bottom of the tomatoes, cut an “X”.  Then, place the tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds or until the skin begins to come loose.  Remove the tomatoes from the water and place in an ice bath (large bowl of ice water).  Once the tomatoes have cooled, remove the skins and chop the tomatoes.

I make a couple batches of par boiled tomatoes and then freeze the cored, peeled tomatoes to cook sauce in the winter as well.  This will allow you to savor the tomato season year-round.

Classic Tomato Sauce

2.) Your Seasonings
When it comes to seasonings I like to say recipes are just “roadmaps” to guide you, but that you don’t have to follow.  I typically add onions, garlic, oregano, basil and olive oil – which are tomato sauce basics. But, feel free to also add parsley, thyme,red wine,  fennel seed and even bay leaf.  I also try and use fresh herbs from my garden, but remember if you use dried herbs use less because the dried version is much more potent.   Want some more zing to your sauce, then try a couple shakes of red pepper flakes.

Saute the onions and garlic, then add the par boiled tomatoes and roasted 3 roasted carrots.  (Yes, carrots.  I always add roasted carrots to my sauce.  I have found it makes a richer tasting sauce.) Add the other ingredients of your choice and cook on medium for about 40 minutes, until thickened.  I puree my sauce in a blender for a smoother sauce, but you can leave in chunky.

Season with salt and pepper.

3.) Store Your Sauce
I freeze my sauce in gallon freezer bags and I also can my sauce throughout the summer.

Savor tomato season year-round with your own homemade tomato sauce.  Check out your local farmers market for a variety of tomatoes to get you started!

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Start with a platter full of local veggies

Over the weekend I pulled out a recipe that I couldn’t wait to try – Pasta Primavera!  I got online to Food Network and printed this great summer time recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. 

This recipe is packed pull of veggies found at your local market.  I added the juice of one lemon for an extra punch.  For leftovers we added some grilled chicken to the mix for a complete meal.  Enjoy!

Pasta Primavera

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

On a large heavy baking sheet, toss all of the vegetables with the oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to coat. Transfer half of the vegetable mixture to another heavy large baking sheet and arrange evenly over the baking sheets. Bake until the carrots are tender and the vegetables begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Toss the pasta with the vegetable mixtures in a large bowl to combine. Toss with the cherry tomatoes and enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve immediately.

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When summer sets in and the hot temperatures are unbearable – I just don’t feel like turning on the stove.  That’s when my family experiments with non-cooked recipes.  This isn’t a fancy recipe that has a long list of ingredients, but it is simple and fresh.

There were many nights as a farm kid that my mother would prepare this dish after we would all get in from the hayfield or from working cattle. Heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market and fresh basil from my garden are highlighted in this easy tomato salad video from the Greater Springfield Farmers Market.

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I made a light and tasty pasta salad at the Aurora Farmers Market that includes fresh products that can be found at a local farmers market.  Watch our cooking video from the market visit and try making this easy Garden Salad for your family this week.

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Greater Springfield Farmers Market

The Market Lady, Lane McConnell, will visit the Downtown Greater Springfield Farmers Market in Springfield, Mo., Thursday, July 21.  The Market Lady and video crew will begin at 3:00 p.m., with two cooking demonstration incorporating products from the market and will be interviewing producers and consumers for various other segments.

“I strive to inform folks on the ease of preparing homemade meals for their families through shopping at the market,” said McConnell.  “Consumers can log on to our website or Facebook page to view short videos of interviews with the farmers that grow our food, topics such as food safety, organic, naturally grown and learn how to cook simple meals.”

The purpose of The Market Lady Project is to educate consumers about eating healthy, locally produced food found at their farmers market.

“We are happy to welcome The Market Lady crew at our market,” said Market Master Brad Gray.  “We hope that customers will come out to the market and bring their families to watch The Market Lady cooking demonstrations.”

Below is one recipe that The Market Lady will be preparing at the market. Be sure and come out to the Downtown Greater Springfield Farmers Market on July 21 to meet the Market Lady and video producer Kelsie Young, downtown Springfield at Jubilee Park.

Traditional Bruschetta
7 ripe plum tomatoes, with skins removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. cracked peppercorns
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ½  teaspoons balsamic vinegar
6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt to taste
1 baguette French bread
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 450°F. After removing skins from the tomatoes, cut tomatoes in quarters and remove the seeds and juice.  Chop tomatoes finely, then place tomatoes, garlic, 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, vinegar in a bowl and mix.  Add chopped basil, salt and peppercorns.

Slice baguette on a diagonal about 1/2 inch thick slices. Drizzle one side of slice with olive oil and place on a baking sheet, oiled side down.  Toast for 5-6 minutes, until the bread just begins to turn golden brown.

Place toasted bread on a serving platter and top with topping.

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Fresh from the Market

Ever wonder how to freeze tomatoes to preserve that freshness year round? This is my trick for frozen tomatoes that helps when you may have too many ripe tomatoes.

Simply place tomatoes that have been cleaned in a freezer bag and remove the excess air.  Seal the bag and place in your deep freeze or freezer.  The tomatoes will be stored for your next recipe that calls for fresh “cooked” tomatoes and you will still have that vine-ripened taste.

Don’t worry about the tomato peel- they will simply slip off after being frozen.

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Heirloom Tomatoes

I am always looking for ways to dress up tomatoes and this recipe is one of my family’s favorites!

For this recipes try using a variety of heirloom tomatoes like Cherokee Purples, Brandywine and a few traditional reds and yellows.

Dress-Up Tomatoes
3-4 different heirloom tomatoes, sliced
feta cheese, herb flavored
balsamic vinegar
basil leaves, chopped
kosher salt

On a tray, plate your tomato slices. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with feta cheese and fresh basil.

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