Category Archives: Veggie Garden

Happy Halloween!

I can feel the holiday season ahead…it’s time to start baking up a storm. But before the season kicks in…I thought I would share our Halloween Pumpkin!

Here’s our Haunted Fairy House Pumpkin! Hope everyone has a Happy & Safe Halloween!

Haunted Fairy House Pumpkin

Tomato Harvest Bruschetta

Loving my veggie garden this year because with all of the rain – comes a huge harvest of tomatoes!  For Labor Day weekend, I made a few different recipes using tomatoes.  Bruschetta was at the top of my list!  So easy to make and you don’t need plum tomatoes.  I used the large juicy big boy-type tomatoes!

Tomato Harvest Bruschetta appetizer

Slice a baguette thin and place on a cookie sheet in one layer.  Place under a hot broiler for just a minute or two until they start to brown.  Flip to the other side and repeat.

When they come out of the oven, drizzle with olive oil and rub the top surface with a sliced garlic clove.

Toasted Baguette

Using 3 or 4 large tomatoes, slice a tomato side ways (so that the top half of the tomato has the vine) and squeeze the juice and seeds over the kitchen sink.  Repeat with the bottom half to remove seeds.

Dice the tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, S&P to taste.

Fresh basil!  Pull 10-12 fresh basil leaves, roll them up together and slice thin.  Add to the tomato mixture and stir.

Scoop the tomato mixture on each toasted baguette slice.

SweetStackers food storage tray inserts

A fresh tomato appetizer perfect for late summer.  Ready to serve or transport to a party!

Sweet Stackers Food Storage trays appetizer

Sweet Stackers are reusable, stackable trays that insert into a container your already own.  The classic Tupperware 9×9 inch container and 8×8 inch Sweet Stackers tray set is pictured.   Two layers of bruschetta in one container without a soggy mess.  Ready to transport to a party or picnic!

sweetstackers.com

or

Sweet Stackers Etsy Shop

Fresh Herb Greek Yogurt Dip

Hooray for Summer and the kids being off of school!  It was a great day to pick some fresh herbs from our garden.  All of our radishes were ready to harvest too.  This fruit & veggie plate made for a super healthy afternoon snack with my girls on the porch.  We didn’t limit ourselves to veggies, we even tried it with peaches and plums.  I love it when they at least try a new veggie they wouldn’t eat before!

I don’t think you can get any healthier than this dip!  It is only made from Greek Yogurt (which I think has the same taste and consistency of sour cream).  I chopped some fresh chives, thyme and dill and added a little salt to taste.  The kids were pleasantly surprised that they liked it!

 

Fresh Herbed Greek Yogurt Dip

Fresh Herb Greek Yogurt Dip

1 cup Greek Yogurt

1 TB chopped dill

1 TB chopped thyme

1 TB chopped chives

S & P to taste

Combine all ingredients and serve with veggies and fruit.

Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies

Tomorrow is going to be filled with a lot of “firsts”!  My oldest daughter is starting first grade.  For me, it is the first time that she will be away from me all day and it will be a first that I have to pack a healthy lunch for her.  So I want it to be a special one!  It is also the first time I added zucchini to a cookie recipe.

Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies Sweet Stackers

I love zucchini bread, so why not add zucchini to a cookie recipe?  This recipe is perfect because there were a couple of zucchini sitting on my countertop that I just picked yesterday and all of the other ingredients in my pantry.

Zucchini Oatmeal batter

Don’t know what to do with all of the zucchini from your garden?  Try this recipe!

Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.

With an electric mixer, add cooled melted butter and sugars until well combined.  Add the egg, vanilla extract and zucchini to the mixture.  At low speed, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  Then gradually add the oats, raisins and chocolate chips.

Place a spoonful of dough, two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.  Cool on a wire rack.

SweetStackers - Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies produced a chewy oatmeal cookie with melty chocolate chips on top.  SweetStackers are the solution to separate and layer your cookies without them sticking together in a container.  Visit sweetstackers.com to learn more about SweetStackers!  Mmm…I might just make another batch and freeze them like this!

Veggie Quinoa Frittata

Frittata is an Italian egg-based dish similar to an omelette or crustless quiche, enriched with additional ingredients such as meats, cheese, vegetables or pasta.  It may be flavored with herbs.  They are so versatile that I never make them the same way twice and they are perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It is a great way to get more veggies into my family’s diet and everyone in my house is pretty happy when I make them.  The kids especially like a slice with a little ketchup drizzled on top.

Slice of Frittata

Pre-cook 1/3 cup of quinoa in 1/3 cup of water for 15 minutes until the water is absorbed.  Set aside.

This frittata was a veggie version.  But, sometimes I check out my fridge to see if there is any leftover ham, chicken or pork.  Any leftover meat or veggies are perfect for a frittata!!  Cube it and throw that in too.  Otherwise, pick any veggies that you have on hand and chop them.

First Harvest Asparagus

I was pretty excited that I was able to harvest my first batch of asparagus from the garden today.  Since it is a small handful, it will not be enough to serve for dinner, so into my frittata it goes!!

Use a medium-sized fry pan that can be placed in the oven, under a broiler.  Sautee the veggies in a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil until softened.

Sauteed Veggies

Once the veggies are done, spread them out evenly in the fry pan and place the cooked quinoa on top.  Quinoa is perfect because it will settle to the bottom of the dish and give it some crunch, almost like a crust.  This is the perfect time to add leftover meat.

Layer Quinoa

Wisk 5 eggs in a small mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Gently pour the eggs over the veggies and quinoa evenly.  I strategically placed a few slices of sweet baby red peppers to fancy it up.  This is the perfect time to sprinkle a little shredded cheese or grated parmesan if you’d like.

Cook over medium heat until the eggs are almost completely set.

Quinoa Egg Frittata

To finish cooking the eggs, I place it under a broiler a few minutes until the top is cooked and golden brown.

Veggie Quinoa Frittata

Slide the frittata out of the pan and cut into wedges to serve.

Healthy Quinoa Frittata

Lunch is served!!

Happiness is….my garden.

My asparagus are really striving to grow, but temps have plummeted once again and the growth has stunted.  Hopefully the sun today will help warm the Earth!  At least I am seeing some sign of spring…..finally.

April Asparagus

Looks like I need to get out there and weed again!  The ground in too soggy to walk on yet after all of the rain and flooding in the Chicago area the past few days.

Garden Asparagus

I found something new that I am going to try.  Yesterday, I bought a bunch of onion sets in the produce section at my local grocery store.  I have stuck them in the ground this chilly morning and have no idea what to expect.  I hope for good results….but we will see.  Guess this is an experiment!  If anyone has any pointers – please let me know!

Oh a couple of weeks ago I planted spinach seeds.  Yay for sprouts of spinach!

Now warm up Chicago!!

Onion Sets

I would love to hear how your veggie garden is coming along!!

Springy Asparagus Soup

Happy Spring!  Well at least we finally had some sign of spring for a few days and now have drifted back to a touch of winter.  But it sure makes me happy to see my garden has started to show a sign of spring because the asparagus is just starting to pop out of the ground.  I am hoping to get a decent harvest finally this year, since it takes are few years to produce.  Asparagus is my favorite vegetable and aside from the bulbs blooming, that is probably my favorite part about this time of year.  Plus, finally good bunches of asparagus are available in the grocery store.  So until I can harvest them myself…

Asparagus Bunch

This asparagus soup recipe was in my local newspaper and I can honestly say I never had this type of soup before.  It was perfect comfort food to make for the rainy and chilly temps that arrived and reminds me that warmer temps are on the way!

Plus, I enhanced it to make it a healthier creamy soup.  It was so easy and quite yummy!

Asparagus Soup

Asparagus Soup

2 lbs. asparagus, woody ends trimmed, reserve 8 spear tips

1 chopped onion

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 clove of garlic

3 TB olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

5 cups reduced sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup plain yogurt

Kitchen tip:  I like to control sodium by using chicken soup base because I can add more water and reduce the measurement of the base.  Use 5 cups of water and 3 teaspoons chicken soup base.  I think the flavor is still good.

It a heavy stockpot, add olive oil and sautee onion, celery, carrot.  Cook for 3 minutes, then add garlic, salt and pepper.  Add asparagus and cook for 5 more minutes.  Add chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes.  Blanch the reserved asparagus tips in water for 3 minutes.  Once the soup is done simmering, use an immersion blender or puree the soup in batches in a blender.  Return the soup to the pot and stir in the plain yogurt.

Garnish with the asparagus tips.

Rosemary Holiday Wreath from my Garden

My garden has come to an end for the season.  We are having some great weather for November, but I know this can’t last long and the days are so short.  It was time to winterize my veggie garden.

My rosemary plant did great once again this year.  So here is what I do with my rosemary plant for the winter…I make a wreath to decorate my kitchen window.  In the past I have tried to move my plant from the garden to a pot indoors.  It was successful for a while, but eventually died.  So last year I came up with the idea of cutting my plant down and used floral wire to wrap the branches into a circle.  I add a bow and hang my wreath in my kitchen window above my sink.  It smells great in the kitchen for well over a week!  It is a beautiful touch to decorate for Thanksgiving and the Christmas Holidays.

Rosemary Holiday Wreath

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Tonight, I made a dinner that I haven’t had since my Mom made this when I was a kid.  I just remember her telling me that it is a traditional Polish dish and my grandma used to make it.  Well, since I had a surplus of green bell peppers from the U-Pick farm, I thought I would give it a try.  I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make and how tasty it turned out!

Savory!

Polish Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Bell Peppers

4 large green bell peppers (6 medium – small peppers)

1 lb. ground beef

1 cup cooked rice

1 egg

1 onion chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 – 8 ounce can of tomato sauce

Pre-heat oven to 350° and coat a casserole or deep baking dish with non-stick spray.  Mix the raw ground beef, rice, egg, onion, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Cut the tops of the peppers off and remove the seeds.  Fill each pepper with the meat mixture and place upright in the baking dish.  Top the peppers with tomato sauce and pour some at the bottom of the dish.  Add about 1/4 C water at the bottom of dish.  Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven for about 1 hour until the meat is cooked thoroughly.  (I cut into the largest pepper to ensure the meat was cooked, if not, cover and bake longer.)

Polish Stuffed Pepper

Traditionally, the peppers are served with noodles, dumplings or potatoes.  I served mine over white rice with a scoop of the tomato sauce from the bottom of the baking dish.

Labor of Love by the Bushel

What a gorgeous day to spend my afternoon picking vegetables from a local farm.

Large Bushel Basket, $3

U-Pick Veggies, $15

and oh so many recipes to come…Priceless!!

Ha!  I have never cooked with eggplant….what should I make?  For real…can you suggest a recipe?  Thanks 🙂