Thursday, October 30, 2008

Spectacular salad

This salad is extraordinary. I have made it many times since I got the recipe from a gal in my neighborhood. The above picture shows a bowl that is 11 inches in diameter. Two adults and one 3-year-old devoured its contents in less than 24 hours. The dressing is a delicious mix of sweet and tangy.


1 head romaine lettuce, washed and chopped (if you use bagged lettuce, you will probably need two)
1 apple, cubed
1 pear, cubed
1 c. shredded Swiss cheese
1 c. Craisins
1 c. cashews

1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. minced onion (or 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. onion powder)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1/2 c. oil (I have only used canola)

Mix salad ingredients and dressing ingredients separately. Toss together before serving. Keep them separate if you don't plan to use all the salad at once or it will get soggy. You must know, however, that I would still eat this salad if it were soggy. It's that good.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Do the dip

Now this is the right way to make a French dip sandwich. By the way, I used to hate French dip sandwiches. In recent times, I have had an awakening, a beautiful awakening. The only thing I can figure is that I had never eaten them the right way before. I think they never had toppings, which I have discovered are vital. The recipe below is delicious and so very easy. Serve the sandwiches with a salad or other veggie on the side.

Deli-sliced roast beef
Sub rolls or hoagie buns
Packet of au jus powder
Sliced Swiss cheese (please understand, I hate Swiss plain, but it is delicious on this)

Make au jus according to package directions. (You just boil it with water.) Add roast beef so meat will warm up. Meanwhile, slice rolls and toast them under the broiler until they're good and golden. Top with mayo and cheese. Use a fork or tongs to remove the beef from the sauce and layer it on the sandwich. Pour au jus into bowls for dipping.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Holy ravioli!

When you don't have time to put dinner together, make this alfredo ravioli bake. The only thing I did that's worthy of being called "cooking" was chop a red pepper. The dish requires an hour to bake, so if you can plan ahead for that, you'll have a nice dinner with very little effort.


1 25-ounce package frozen cheese-filled ravioli
1 8-ounce package pre-sliced mushrooms
1 c. chopped red bell pepper
1 16-ounce bottle alfredo sauce
8 ounces shredded cheese (I used mozzarella, but Swiss, Parmesan or a mixture would work)

Mix all ingredients -- don't even worry about thawing ravioli -- in a baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

By the way, this meal cost me $6.29 at Wal-Mart. I price-matched the mushrooms and cheese. I used a pepper from our garden. Three of us only ate half the pan, so we have lunch for tomorrow. Not bad.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Got extra tomatoes?

We love to use up our garden bounty by making tomato melts. Make them however your family will eat them. Feel free to experiment with toppings and seasonings. Make it for lunch, as a side dish, or even for your main dish if you're strapped for time.


French bread, sliced however you want
Fresh tomatoes, sliced
Shredded cheese (mozzarella, Parmesan or both)
Garlic powder or salt
Dried basil

Set oven to broil. Arrange tomato slices on bread. Sprinkle generously with cheese. Season as desired. Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden and edges of bread are crisp.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

From garden to gourmet

This recipe for homemade tomato-almond soup is unique and wonderful. It tastes so fresh, because we use tomatoes from our garden. It has an unusual, gourmet taste to it. The almonds provide a bread-crumb effect. It seems like something that would be served at an expensive, authentic Italian restaurant. You need to like tomatoes in order to like this. We like it well enough to make multiple batches and freeze them. It tastes the very best with french bread dipped in it.


3 Tbsp. butter
4 c. chopped vine-ripened tomatoes*
2 c. vegetable or chicken broth (more or less if desired)
2/3 c. light cream
1/4 c. ground almonds
1 tsp. sugar
Dried basil to taste (shred fresh basil if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste
French bread for dipping

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, until the skins start to wrinkle. Season with salt and pepper. Add broth, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, under a preheated broiler, toast ground almonds until they are golden brown. This will take only 1 or 2 minutes, so watch them closely.

Remove the soup from heat, place in a food processor or blender, and blend the mixture to form a smooth consistency. Alternatively, mash the soup with a potato masher. Pass the soup through a strainer to remove any skin and seeds. Place soup in saucepan and return to heat. Stir in cream, almonds, sugar and basil. Serves 4.

*This recipe is best made with garden fresh tomatoes. Store-bought tomatoes will give you a watered-down flavor. I chop, bag and freeze many of the tomatoes from my garden just so I can make this soup during the off-season. If you must use store-bought tomatoes, you could probably add an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce to increase the tomato flavor.