Category Archives: Cooking and Restaurants

Green Tomato Muffins…Yes, I’m serious.

My husband keeps casually reminding me that I haven’t blogged in a while.  Just about a month, to be a little more specific.  The typical excuse of “things have been crazy around here” doesn’t really hold much water, so I won’t use it.  It has been a good month though.  I’ve been substitute teaching a decent amount and have found some schools I DEFINITELY don’t want to work at, even though they offered me positions on the spot.  I am not tooting my own horn (though I think I’m a pretty good teacher), but saying this more to point out that these schools are so desperate because their teachers are just up and quitting.  These are ROUGH schools to say the least!

I did take a few days off to make the 8ish hour drive to Northern Virginia to visit my super awesome best friend Sarah and her equally super awesome family!  Something like seven dozen cake pops were made and decorated to look like little jack-o-lanterns and ghosties for their annual Octoberfest.  Having lived in Florida for the last four years this is the first fest I’ve made it to!   Much fun was had!

Now on to the subject of this post.  I have adapted/created a yummy muffin recipe that uses up some veggies.

Mmmm…Donuts Muffins (A little Homer Simpson for Jonathan)

Jonathan’s wonderful garden yielded a bountiful harvest of tomatoes that just couldn’t ripen before the warm weather ran out.  We’re not really fried green tomato folks, and we try to eat pretty healthy (save for Halloween candy) so I was bound and determined to find a way to use them up.  A few clicks later I realized that I am apparently not the only crazy one who wanted to bake something with green tomatoes.  Once I verified it could be done I threw them in a muffin recipe for zucchini-apple muffins that I concocted for my drive to Virginia.

oodles of green tomatoes bobbing in some water

Here goes…first you need to prepare the green tomatoes, which means removing the stems, cutting them into chunks and popping them into the blender.  Blend them up and let the green smoothie drain in a colander for about 30 minutes.  There will be a quite a bit of water.

Yum…blended green tomatoes

While it’s draining mix together the two flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a largish bowl.  Then whisk up the wet: eggs, oil, yogurt, sugar, molasses, and vanilla extract.  You could just use brown sugar instead of the white sugar and molasses…it’s the same thing. We just don’t buy brown sugar any more and just mix in some molasses with the white sugar when brown sugar is called for.

Mix the wet and the dry together, stirring as little as possible. Then “walk away, just walk away.”  I’m sorry, I watch way to much Good Eats with Alton Brown.  Anyway…now is the time to add your veggies (or veggies and fruit).  Mix in your green tomato pulp or zucchini and apples and don’t stir too much.

This recipe will fill a dozen regular size muffin cups to the top.  I am sure you could do a loaf or two, or muffins of different sizes.  I haven’t tested it out though.  Bake ’em up and enjoy!!

Green Tomato (or Zucchini Apple) Muffins
Mix together in a large bowl:
1 c flour
1 c wheat flour
½ T baking soda
1 t cinnamon
¼ t salt

In a small bowl mix together:
3 eggs
¼ c oil
½ c yogurt
⅔ c sugar
1 T molasses
1 t vanilla extract

Mix wet into dry.  Add in:

2 cups of green tomato pulp
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 apple, shredded

Mix until combined.  Divide into 12 greased muffin cups.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until done.

That’s it…pretty awesome muffins.  And fairly healthy to boot!  Don’t worry…the green tomato version tastes very similar to zucchini muffins.
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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Cooking and Restaurants


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19 Pounds of Pickles

It’s been a while since I’ve shared anything and while I certainly could have shared last weekend, other things got in the way.  Like a really cool arts festival, so I didn’t write.  Now I am here to tell you about last weekend.  We entered the wide world of food preservation.  Thanks to my grandma, we came home from my parents’ house completely equipped to start canning.  With 19 pounds of pickles fresh from our garden, we naturally made pickles.  We used a few different recipes, two of which were the packaged pickling spices.  The third was Alton Brown’s Dill Pickles.  I will leave the rest of the story to the pictures…

These are Alton Brown’s pickles…they are supposed to be made in a pickle crock.  Since we didn’t have one, we opted for the crock out of our crock pot.  They are currently fermenting away in our basement along with 15 jars of perfectly canned pickles.



Too bad I don’t really like pickles.


Posted by on September 17, 2011 in Cooking and Restaurants, Life


Meatless Monday…Veggie Burgers and Edamame Broccoli Slaw

For the last month and a half we have challenged ourselves to have a meatless meal each week.  This week I turned to Betty.  Yes, I like to call my cookbooks by their first names…Betty…Joy…

So Betty has a decent vegetarian section and I found Veggie and Bean Burgers.  I altered it a bit and added some more seasoning.  They were awesome!  My favorite veggie burger by far! It had a creamy texture and a nutty flavor and was perfect with a toasted whole wheat English muffin, a slice of tomato, spinach, and a dollop of mayo.  I am drooling a bit right now; good thing I have a burger in the fridge for lunch!

Coming up with a side dish for our meatless meals is a little bit of a challenge.  I always want to do something creative but we are not so imaginative with side dishes.  Jonathan suggested edamame, so we bought a bag of shelled edamame and I threw some things together and we ended up with a pretty tasty slaw.

Veggie and Bean Burgers (adapted from Betty Crocker, New Edition)
serves 4….or two and lunch the next day

1/2 cup cooked brown rice
3/4 cup broccoli (measuring broccoli is ridiculous, so I used a small crown)
4 button or crimini mushroom
1/4 bell pepper (red or green…I used green)

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 egg
1 clove garlic

1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 t. grated onion (I used a micro plane grater…you could just finely chop ’em)
1/4 t. ground red pepper
1/4 t. cumin
1/4 t. turmeric
salt and pepper to taste

sliced tomatoes
four whole wheat English muffins
baby spinach leaves

1. In food processor pulse the broccoli, mushrooms, and pepper until finely chopped. Mix with the rice in a medium bowl.

2. Add beans, egg, and garlic to the food processor.  Process until smooth.  Add it to veggie mixture and mix in the bread crumbs, onion, red pepper, cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper.

3. Heat a bit of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Form the mixture into four even patties.  Cook 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Serve on English muffins with toppings.

Edamame and Broccoli Slaw
Serves 4ish…probably more.

1 pound frozen shelled edamame
1/2 package broccoli slaw
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 T mayonaise
2-3 T apple cider vinegar
1 t. soy sauce
1 T honey
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the edamame according to package instruction. Drain and run under cold water to chill them

2. Whisk together yogurt, mayo, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, salt and pepper.  Taste and tweak as necessary.

3. Add edamame and broccoli slaw to the dressing and mix

Try the recipes out and let me know what you think!





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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Cooking and Restaurants


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Happy Homemaker

That is what Jonathan has started to call me…Happy Homemaker.  I am on day three of being an official housewife, and I have probably another week or two until my services are called upon to substitute teach. That is my plan for this year, substitute teach and get a feel for what education is like in these parts.  I was a little spoiled teaching where I did in Florida as it afforded me the opportunity to be creative and innovative with my teaching.  This is not the case in many other places.  Anyway…I am not here to talk about the state of education in this country.  I am here to talk about the yummy meal I made on day two of being a housewife.

I dug down and pulled out my Cuban heritage and made ropa vieja, frijoles negros, y arroz amarillo.  Muy facil y delicioso! Ahem, I mean I made Cuban beef stew, black beans, and yellow rice.  Very easy and delicious.

Ropa vieja translates to “old clothes” as that is what the beef looks like when it is all shredded apart and yummy.  I’d prefer not to think of them as clothes.  Anyway…I’ve made this a few times and have stopped looking at recipes much because with all traditional dishes in a particular culture, everyone has a different recipe and everyone says it’s authentic.  Here’s what I did:

Disclaimer:  I don’t really measure anything…ever when I cook.  Baking, maybe…cooking, no.  So, these are all approximations

2 bottom round steaks (or any meat that would be tough to eat if you didn’t stew it all day)
1 large can tomato puree
3/4 small can tomato paste
2-3 bell peppers sliced…red or green doesn’t matter
1 onion sliced
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 bay leaves
sprinkle of dried rosemary
sprinkle of cumin
splash of white vinegar (maybe about 2 tablespoons?)
2 little cubes of beef bouillon (optional)

  1. Sear the steaks in a little oil over medium-high to high heat…just to get them brown. Watch out for your smoke alarms, mine didn’t like this step.Sprinkle with salt and pepper if you please.
  2. Place them in the bottom of a smallish crock pot.  I started out with our big one, but opted for the smaller one as you need to cover the meat and veggies with liquid and it would take too much to do that in the big one.
  3. If your pan has all kinds of yummy brown bits pour a little water in and scrape them up.  Pour this over the meat.
  4. Place the peppers, onions, garlic, and spices on top of the meat.
  5. Pour on enough of the tomato puree to come to the top of the veggies
  6.  Mix in the tomato paste and vinegar
  7. Cook on low for 8 hours
  8. You’ll know it’s done when the meat shreds apart when you poke it.  I just kept poking it and stirring the pot with a spoon until it was all shredded up and stew-looking.
  9. At this point, taste it.  If it tastes a little too acidic, add some honey.  If it tastes a little too tomatoey and not beefy, add some beef bouillon.

For the black beans I went easy and opened two cans…just like Grandma used to.  I popped them in a pot with half a green pepper (diced), a clove of garlic (finely chopped), a sprig of oregano, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Set it on low and let it simmer away.  The longer the better.  I usually add onion, but we ran out.

The rice was easy and not what I usually do.  My family always has white rice with our black beans, but at my favorite little restaurant in Gainesville, Mi Apa, they serve yellow rice and it is really yummy.  I didn’t look to see how to make yellow rice, so I just sprinkled a packet of Sazon seasoning into the rice water.  Miraculously I ended up with yellowish/orange rice.

A fabulous meal!


Posted by on August 24, 2011 in Cooking and Restaurants, Life


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Vegetarian for the evening…

For Meatless Monday Tuesday, I tried out a recipe for Chickpea Burgers and Mint Raita.  It turned out pretty tasty!  I used (and adapted a bit) a recipe from Big Girls, Small Kitchen posted on Meatless Monday.

For the burgers:

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans because as a part-time Southerner I’ve always got them in the house)
2 garlic cloves
1 shallot
1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup mint, minced
1 tablespoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg, whisked
a little oil for the pan

Toast the nuts on the stove until they smell nutty.  Chop the garlic and shallot in the food processor.  Add the chickpeas, mint, parsley, salt, cumin, and paprika and pulse until it’s all mixed.  It’s a bit crumbly.  Don’t expect hummus or anything.

Dump the mixture into a bowl and mix in the beaten egg.  Now that I write this, I bet you could just plop the egg in the food processor and do the same job with out the bowl.  Hmmm…  Anyhow, then mix in the chopped toasted nuts.  Form into four patties and chill them.

After a while in the fridge, (mine were in for about 2 hours) heat a bit of oil in a pan over medium high heat. Cook the patties for about 4 minutes on each side until they are beautifully browned.

We served ours on toasted whole wheat English muffins with tomato, cucumbers, and the raita:

Mint Raita:

1 cup lowfat plain yogurt
1/3 cup mint leaves, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt  (I’d cut back…it was a little salty)

Mix everything up in a small bowl and chill.  Simple.

As a side dish I served baby spinach with warm balsamic mushrooms.  I sauteed some crimini mushrooms for about 5 minutes until brown.  Then added in a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. About 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar finished it off.  I let them cook about about a minute more.  The mushrooms were served over baby spinach and a sprinkle of feta cheese.  Yummy!

I’m hoping to make a meatless meal at least once every week, for no other reason that it is a challenge and it forces me to find new recipes!


Posted by on July 19, 2011 in Cooking and Restaurants


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