BALSAMIC BASIL TOMATOES ~ BLOG 366.149

I usually make Sweet and Sour Tomatoes, but every now and then a completely savory version is in the cards!

BALSAMIC BASIL TOMATOES
5 medium tomatoes, cut into thick slices or 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 LARGE shallot, THINLY sliced
1/2 cup FRESH basil chiffonade
1/4 cup olive oil*
1/3 cup QUALITY balsamic vinegar*
3 cloves garlic, FINELY minced
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, minced garlic, FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper. Set aside.
  • Arrange tomato slices and sliced shallots in a 3 quart serving dish. If using cherry tomatoes, toss them with the shallots, garlic and basil.
  • Pour marinade over tomatoes.
  • Chill 3-4 hours minimum before serving.

NOTES:

  • I use avocado oil which is more neutral allowing a QUALITY balsamic vinegar and flavorful basil to shine through.
  • I often use a combination of champagne vinegar and white balsamic vinegar.
  • This marinade pairs well with crisp cooked broccoli florets or even green beans substituted for the tomatoes – or any combination of the three.

CHEESY GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE ~ BLOG 365.178

A new twist to the traditional green bean casserole.

CHEESY GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE serves 4

3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons WONDRA flour
1 small shallot, FINELY diced
2 cloves garlic, FINELY minced
1/3 cup WHOLE milk
2/3 cup HOMEMADE chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 cups (12 ounces) frozen green beans, thawed
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup French’s fried onions, crushed FINE

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Grease a 8×8 baking dish. Set aside.
  • In a large saucepan melt butter over medium heat.
  • Add shallots and garlic, sautéing 1 minute until soft.
  • Whisk in flour until smooth and golden.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk and chicken broth, simmering and stirring constantly 2-3 minutes until thickens.
  • Stir in Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper.
  • Stir in cheese until smooth.
  • Fold in green beans, stirring to combine.
  • Transfer to baking dish.
  • Sprinkle crumbled fried onions evenly over.
  • Bake uncovered 30 minutes until bubbling and golden.

NOTE: For an even deeper flavor, switch out the chicken broth for your favorite lager beer.

LOADED CAULIFLOWER CASSEROLE

LOADED CAULIFLOWER CASSEROLE

2 pounds cauliflower florets, cut into bite sized pieces
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup FULL fat sour cream
1 1/2 cups FINELY shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups FINELY shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 – 1 teaspoon SLAP YO MAMA seasoning(depending on your level of heat)
4-6 slices crispy cooked bacon, coarsely chopped
1 bunch FRESH chopped green onions, chives or parsley (save some for garnish)
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper to taste

  • Steam the cauliflower florets 10 minutes until fork tender.
  • Drain WELL.
  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl combine the cream cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, garlic powder, onion powder and slap your mama seasoning until well blended. Mix until creamy and smooth.
  • GENTLY fold in cauliflower, 1/2 of the bacon and green onions.
  • Season to taste with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Spoon into a casserole dish and top with the remaining bacon.
  • Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted.
  • Top with remaining chives and serve.

NOTE: This Loaded Cauliflower Casserole also makes a wonderfully filling full meal by adding 2 cups rotisserie chicken pieces, 1 pound of browned ground beef or pork.

STOVE TOP BACON “BAKED” BEANS

STOVE TOP BACON “BAKED” BEANS
8 thick-cut slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 LARGE bunch green onions, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, chopped
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste (more pepper than salt since the bacon is salty)
4 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 1/2 tablespoon Garden Gourmet chunky garlic paste
2 cups KINDERS or Guy Fieri Carolina Mop BBQ sauce or
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons QUALITY champagne vinegar
Two 15.5-ounce cans navy beans, rinsed and drained
Sliced scallions, for finishing

  • Leave the bacon grease in the pan and add the onion and bell pepper.
  • Season with a pinch of salt, cooking and stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.
  • Add the garlic sautéing 30 seconds or so until fragrant.
  • Add the BBQ sauce, molasses, vinegar and half of the bacon.
  • Season again with another pinch of salt.
  • Bring to a SLOW boil over medium heat and reduce to a simmer.
  • Stir in the beans, simmering until thickened, about 15 minutes.
  • Season to taste.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining bacon and scallions.
  • Serve immediately.

POTATO & CORN SALAD

POTATO & CORN SALAD
2 pounds YUKON potatoes, bite sized diced
4 ears sweet corn, cut off the cob
1 can chopped green chiles, drained well
1 LARGE shallot, diced
2 tablespoons butter
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1/4 cup chopped FRESH cilantro
2/3 cup Mexican sour cream
1/3 cup Dukes Hint of Lime mayonnaise
2 LARGE limes, juiced
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
Lime Wedges, for garnish
Minced green onions, for garnish

  • Place potatoes in a large sauce pan and cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 5 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. Drain.
  • While potatoes are cooking, prepare corn.
  • Melt butter in large skillet (preferably cast iron).
  • Add corn and shallots, sauteing until corn is a bit charred.
  • Add green chiles and FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, sauteing 5 minutes more and then set aside to cool a bit.
  • While potatoes are cooking and corn is sauteing, prepare sauce.
  • Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, apple cider vinegar and lime juice.
  • After potatoes are drained ad them while still warm to the mayonnaise mixture.
  • Fold in the corn mixture and cheese, stirring to blend well.
  • Chill several hours until ready to serve.
  • Serve with lime wedges and sprinkled minced green onion.

SMOKEY BAKED BEANS

SMOKEY BAKED BEANS

1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 small Vidalia onion, diced
2 (22 ounce) cans Bush’s Bourbon Brown Sugar Grillin’ beans
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 ounce Bourbon or Whiskey (your choice)
1/4 cup Heinz Chili Sauce
1 teaspoon Hickory Liquid smoke

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat render bacon until JUST crisp. Drain on paper toweling. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the drippings in the pan.
  • Add onion to bacon grease, cooking until softened. Drain well.
  • Whisk together the chili sauce, liquid smoke, whiskey or bourbon and brown sugar.
  • Fold in beans and the majority of the bacon pieces, saving a few for garnish.
  • Pour into Pampered Chef enameled cast iron baking dish.
  • Bake 30 minutes.

BAKED TOMATOES with PARMESAN BROCCOLI STUFFING

BAKED TOMATOES with PARMESAN BROCCOLI STUFFING Serves 4

4 LARGE tomatoes
2 cups minced broccoli florets
¼ cup FINELY shredded mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons FINELY minced onion
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH basil
Juice from 1 LARGE lemon

FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Cut tomatoes in half crosswise.
  • Using a spoon, scoop out pulp.
  • Chop tomato pulp, place in medium bowl and add broccoli, cheeses, garlic, onion, basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  • Arrange tomato halves, cut sides up, on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt then evenly fill with stuffing mixture.
  • Bake 15 minutes or until tomatoes are tender and heated through.

NOTES & HINTS:

  • Tomatoes can be assembled a day ahead, covered and stored on a baking sheet in refrigerator.
  • A grapefruit spoon with serrated edges works well for cleaning out the tomatoes from their pulp.

ASIAGO PASTA PEAS

ASIAGO PASTA PEAS
16 ounces ditalini pasta
2 cups FRESH hulled peas
2 green onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon onion powder
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded Asiago cheese

  • Cook pasta per package directions.
  • Drain well and return to pot.
  • Whisk together the heavy cream, salt, pepper and onion powder.
  • Add cream mixture, garlic and peas to pan you cooked the pasta in and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.
  • After 2 minutes add in pasta.
  • When cream begins to thicken fold in cheese, stirring to melt.
  • Season to taste.
  • Serve immediately.

SMASHED SUNCHOKES with TARRAGON BUTTER

SMASHED SUNCHOKES with TARRAGON BUTTER
1 pound sunchokes, rinsed, peeled and trimmed of any dark spots
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon FRESH tarragon leaves
Finishing salt

  • 
In a medium saucepan, cover sunchokes with 1 inch cold water.
  • Season generously with salt. The water should taste nicely salted, as if you were seasoning soup.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
  • Cook until paring knife inserted into a sunchoke meets little resistance, about 10 minutes; DO NOT OVERCOOK.


  • Drain sunchokes in a colander.
  • When cool enough to handle, place sunchokes on work surface or cutting board and “smash” enough to flatten, but not break them apart with a heavy skillet. 


  • In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering.
  • Add sunchokes in a single layer and cook without moving until well browned, about 3 minutes.
  • Flip sunchokes, then add butter to the pan and allow to melt.
  • Add half of the tarragon leaves to the melted butter and continue to cook, spooning butter over sunchokes, until browned on the second side, about 3 minutes longer.

  • Transfer sunchokes to a serving plate and spoon the tarragon butter on top.
  • Garnish with remaining tarragon leaves and sprinkle with flaky salt.
  • Serve immediately.

SCALLOPED SWEET CORN CASSEROLE

This is one of those recipes that was immediately altered (because I ended up not having the ingredients on hand that I thought I did so I substituted 😀 ) and was such a hit that we’ll never go back and make it the way the recipe directed.

SCALLOPED SWEET CORN CASSEROLE
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1 can Green Giant white shoepeg corn
3 green onions, sliced thin
2 cups frozen corn
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped thyme leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
3 LARGE eggs
2/3 + 3/4 cups WHOLE milk, divided
3 cups bread cubes (I used a buttermilk)
1 1/2 cups Crispix cereal (or rice Krispies), crushed
3 tablespoons butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth.
  • In a large skillet melt butter over medium heat.
  • Add corn, green onions, 2/3 cup milk, thyme leaves, FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, stirring to blend. Bring to a SLOW boil.
  • Stir in cornstarch mixture and reduce heat, simmering until the moisture is absorbed and the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  • While the corn portion is cooling, whisk the eggs together with the 3/4 cup milk.
  • Fold in bread cubes, stirring to absorb the egg mixture.
  • Fold in corn mixture.
  • Transfer to prepared 8×8 baking dish.
  • Bake, uncovered, 30-35 minutes.
  • In a small bowl melt butter.
  • Fold in cereal pieces to form a crumbly mixture.
  • Spread evenly over top of the casserole and return to the oven for 10 minutes until golden brown.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS CASSEROLE

Fortunately I was watching a Molly Yeh episode of Girl Meets Farm recently and it just happened to be on sides for Thanksgiving. She made the most amazing Brussels Sprouts Casserole, an absolutely wonderful alternative to the tired old Green Bean Casserole and better yet it is ALL from scratch, well except the French’s Crispy Fried Onions 😀 – no canned goods involved!

I only made a couple changes – like trading shallots for the leeks and adding in some crunchy bacon, but nothing that really affected the outcome. I altered her directions to my liking also.

BRUSSELS SPROUT CASSEROLE
2 teaspoons avocado oil
1/2 pound bacon, diced
2 shallots, sliced thin
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
2 pounds Brussels Sprouts, trimmed, halved or quartered as necessary
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons FRESH thyme leaves, chopped
3 cloves garlic, FINELY minced
3 tablespoons WONDRA flour
2 cups homemade chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup QUALITY Parmesan cheese
ZEST from 1 Meyer lemon
2 cups crispy onions

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Cook bacon pieces crisp in large saute pan.
  • Remove bacon to drain on paper toweling with a slotted spoon.
  • Add avocado oil to saute pan.
  • Add shallots, sauteing 2-3 minutes until beginning to caramelize.
  • Add garlic and Brussels sprouts, sauteing 6-7 minutes until edges of Brussels sprouts are brown.
  • Season generously with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Add thyme, and saute a bit longer until fragrant.
  • In a separate sauce pan melt butter.
  • Whisk in flour, cooking until golden.
  • Alternately add chicken broth and cream, stirring constantly until begins to thicken.
  • Add cheese and lemon zest.
  • Adjust seasoning.
  • Fold together the sauce and Brussels sprouts.
  • Top with crispy onions.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes until bubbly.

ARTICHOKE PARMESAN SQUARES

ARTICHOKE PARMESAN SQUARES
1/2 package MRS. GRASS vegetable soup mix (save the other half for next time)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 package Pillsbury Crescent GRAND size
5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained WELL
12-14 ounces artichoke hearts, drained and chopped small
8 ounce can water chestnuts, chopped
3 ounces Monterey jack cheese, shredded
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream and soup mix. Set Aside.
  • Lightly spray 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Roll out and arrange crescent rolls in baking dish, sealing perforations and pushing rolls slightly up the sides.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes until golden.
  • Add spinach. artichokes, water chestnuts, garlic and Jack cheese to the soup mixture, blending well.
  • Spread on top of the crescent rolls.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake another 10-12 minutes until heated through and turning golden.
  • Cut into 2 inch squares and serve.