Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer Fruit Salad with Orange-Honey-Basil Dressing

On Saturday, the hubby and I went to farmer market in Pasadena, and I was like a little kid in a candy store. There were so many beautiful summer fruit like white and yellow peaches, red and green plums, yellow and white nectarines, and berries that tasted so juicy and sweet from the vendor’s samples (my favorite part and I tried them all!) I would have bought them all if the hubby didn’t stop me first!


So, I brought home a few of everything…well, almost everything…I told you the hubby stopped me from doing that!!!! But it’s okay. I can go back next Saturday. 


This time I whipped up simple sweet dressing combining fresh squeeze orange juice, honey, and chopped fresh basil for a hint of dazzling summer. Poured it over the fresh cut fruit and chilled in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. It’s as simple as that! 


Ahhh.…I just love summer! 

What you need: (mix any of your favorite summer fruit)

1 large (1 cup) yellow peach, chopped and seeded
1 large (1 cup) red plum, chopped and seeded
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 kiwi, chopped
2 medium oranges, cut into segments (and squeezed the juice for 1/4 cup for the dressing) 

Orange-Honey-Basil dressing:

1/4 cup fresh squeeze orange juice
1 tbsp Honey
5 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped 

- For the dressing, whisk together orange juice, honey, and basil in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Add the chopped fruit into the dressing and gently toss to coat.
- Let stand for 15 minutes in the refrigerator to allow flavors to blend. Serve cold as side dish or dessert with plain yogurt on top, if desired.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Lazy Tomato Spinach Tortilla-Tartlet

Tomato again! You might think! I promise this will be the last one –for now! 

I’ve been thinking about making Tomato Tart for quite sometimes now but never get a chance to do so because of the hot steamy weather that preventing me from turning on the oven. However, there are big baskets filled with tomatoes waiting and waiting to be eaten before they automatically turn into tomato sauce on the kitchen counter cause by the humidity of the Augusts’ summer heat. 

So, I have to do something, right?     ....Right!...      


Luckily, the weather today is slightly cool down a little with a nice cool breeze and I am thinking of making tomato tart.   Have the flour out, butter, and sugar………….BUT I am feeling a little tired and lazy today. So, I put them back and forsaken my original plan! …………Sight! 

Then I see a bag of green spinach tortilla I bought for making a wrap the other day, and suddenly, the light bulb went off in my head! Since I am too lazy to make a crust, then I will use a spinach tortilla to make a crust for my tomato tart and complete it with store-bought basil pesto. 

My lazy tomato tartlet is probably the laziest and simplest tomato mini-tart ever, but the combination made from heaven of basil pesto (yes! Basil pesto again, it makes everything tastes instantly so good), mozzarella cheese, tomato, and the crunchiness of baked tortilla is absolutely yummy and tastylicous that I will definitely make it again! That’s simple!

What you need:  (for 5-in tart serve as an appetizer for 2 or 1 if you are really hungry!)

1 sheet green spinach tortilla - cut to fit in the 5-in tart dish
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp Basil pesto - store brought or homemade (recipe here)

How To:
- Place the cut tortilla in the bottom of the tart pan, spread the cheese over evenly, arrange tomato slices with the circle pattern, and sprinkle with a pinch salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake the tart at 350” F for 35 minutes or until the tomato has shrunk and dried out a little.
- Let the tart cool down to handle for 5- 10 minutes, then spoon over the tomato tart with basil pesto and garnish with basil leave, slice and serve as an appetizer.



Summer Tomato Salad with Shrimp

There is a time when cooking in a small kitchen (like mine) is not an option when the hot summer weather in August is screaming at me like crazy! So, making something that required no heat, light, and simple would make more sense than cooking with high temperature heat.

Since there are still some tomatoes left waiting to be eaten, I decide to stir up Summer Tomato salad with already cooked shrimp for a light and healthy lunch for me and the hubby this afternoon.


This salad is like, more or less, coarsely chopped gazpacho without juice and with the additions of leftover grilled corns on the cob I had for dinner from the night before, frozen cooked-shrimp, and the big slice of fresh creamy Hass avocado.  It can be served as a light lunch or make a big batch for a party as an appetizer.  This salad is so refreshing, especially when you having it with a nice big glass of Melon Mint Lemonade that is so healthy-licious! 


What you need:

10 oz cooked and chopped shrimp
1 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (about 3 medium tomatoes)
1 cup seeded, unpeeled, chopped cucumber
1 cup cooked sweet white corn kernels
1 medium Jalapeno chili pepper, minced and seeded
2 medium shallots, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp EV Olive oil
3 tbsp fresh squeeze lime juice
1 Hass avocado, slices or chopped

- Combine all the ingredients into the mixing bowl and chill the salad in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Serve in the appetizer glasses with thinly slices of tomato (optional) and garnish with avocado slices.




Friday, August 17, 2012

Roasted Caprese

As I have mentioned in my previous post that the hubby loves having Caprese salad before dinner, almost every day - with fresh sliced homegrown tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, EVOO, and balsamic vinegar. Today, I decided to make caprese for him in different way by roasting tomatoes in the oven for just 12 minutes to bring out the intense sweet flavor from the fresh tomatoes combined with the balsamic vinegar which married perfectly with a deep and delicious flavor of basil pesto – I used store-bought that tastes so great but if you want to do it from scratch, you can find the recipe I always use from the Food Network website.

“Taste Great!” The hubby approved!    Huh!  That was easy!  ^__^

What you need:

2 medium tomatoes – about 2 or 3 diameter
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Basil pesto – I used store brought
Basil leaves, thinly sliced for garnish
Salt and ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350’F

How To:

- Cut 2 tomatoes in half and scoop out the pulp to make 4 cups
- Arrange the tomatoes cups in a small baking dish, drizzle with EVOO and salt, and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the tomatoes cups are just soften. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
- Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon basil pesto in the bottom of each tomato cups, top with fresh mozzarella cheese, ground black pepper, drizzle a few drops of balsamic vinegar, and top with thinly slices of basil leaves. 
Served at room temperature or chilled.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Chipotle Tomato Jam and Green Apple

There is nothing better and sweeter than homegrown tomatoes. The hubby and I plant tomatoes every summer which leave us plenty of tomatoes to eat.   And over the past two weeks, I’ve been harvesting my tomatoes almost every day since they are ripening almost at the same time. While the hubby loves to cut them up and making Caprese salad almost every day, I’m making Gazpacho, tomato salsa, tomato mini frittatas, and just simply adding them into the salad…and shhhh...for my beauty secret! ~_^

Today I’ve decided to make Tomato Jam! “Hah?” It was the hubby’s reaction when I told him that I was going to make tomato jam.

“Hah? I’ve never heard of tomato jam before!”

“Well, you do now!”

After researching on the net, tomato jam is nothing new.  When people hear the word “jam,” they tend to think of it with the taste like other kinds of jams that contain lots of sugar and must be really sweet.  And yet some of the recipes I found are, somehow, using lots of sugar! 

 So, I matched up a few of the recipes I found and modified and simplified them to my own personal taste which I also have added chipotle pepper in adobo sauce for a little kick of heat. And oh mine! I’ve tried this version of tomato jam with the green apple I had, and you know what? It was heavenly perfect!   That’s all I can say.  So, as greedy as I am, I finished my two green apples I had in no time with half of the tomato jam left for the hubby to taste! {ˆ--ˆ}     Sorry!

What you need:

1 lb tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup sugar
2 cloves minced garlic
1tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp lemon juice + zest
1 tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 or 2 fresh slices Green Apples or other kind of tart fruit like green mango and Jacima will be perfect, too!

How To:

Add all the ingredients, except apples, in the medium sauce pan and bring to the boil and then simmer. Stir frequently until the jam is glossy and thicken enough with the consistency of jam – about 40-50 minutes. Make 1 1/2 cups


Friday, August 10, 2012

Tomato-Zucchini Frittata Cups

A bunch of tomatoes from my garden are ripen and I have to find the way to eat them fast. And once again I’m making frittata cups because I love the idea of making them individually so I can keep them and have them later for the breakfast-to-go in the morning on my way to work. Just warm it up in the microwave for 15 seconds and you are set. I’ve made Spaghetti Squash Mini Frittata cups before on my previous post, and I was hooked to that clever idea. 

Baking frittata in the muffin pan is as easy as making scramble eggs, no fuss at all, and you can also add any veggies you like and with your preferred cheese. This time I’ve added a slice of fresh cut tomatoes from my garden on the top of each cup which made them look so pretty sophisticated with bright red in the middle when they come out from the oven. So, try making them today and you will know that how easy it is to get hook on these little cuties frittata cups.

What you need:

2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into half-moons
3 medium tomatoes, cut thinly crosswise
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
3/4 cup grated Mozzarella Cheese
7 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp each of salt and ground black pepper – or more to taste 
Cooking spray to coat the muffin pan.

How to:

Preheat the oven to 350’ F.

- Heat oil in a large skillet and add garlic, onion, red bell pepper, and zucchini with salt and pepper; sauté just until the veggies tender.
- Whisk together eggs and milk and season with salt and pepper.
- Spray the muffin pan with cooking spray, and then divide the cooked vegetables evenly among 12 muffin cups, follow by mozzarella cheese and fill with the eggs mixture just almost to the top, and a slice of tomato on each cup.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until tops slightly puffed and middles are set.
- Remove mini frittatas onto a wire rack and serve warm with you favorite salsa or hot sauce as desired.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lemon Tart with Blueberry and the Three Tartlets

Lemon Lemon Lemon Lemon…ohhhh Lemon mania!   
Who doesn’t like lemon? 
 Life without lemon is like walking clothes less in the public. 
 And that’s really wrong! 

The hubby is crazy for lemon! And since we have wonderful neighbors who give us a big bag of fresh lemons all the times, his everyday drink is lemon ice tea which is like… can’t live without it! 

I made this lemon tart over the weekend as hubby requested (noooo…it wasn’t his birthday). In no time, He finished the 5-in tart and left me with the 3 tartlets! I was just so thankful and relieved that I made a little too much of chopped almond combined with graham cracker crumbs to make a crust for my 5-in ceramic tart pan and that I had enough leftovers perfectly to make the 3 tartlets! Whew!

The Crust:

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup finely chopped almond
2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
: Add all the ingredients together to mix well and press the mixture into 5-in tart pan (and 3 small tartlets). Prick the bottom of the crust with fork and bake at 375’F for 10 minutes, let cool before filling

The Lemon Curdmake 1 cup
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
6 tbsp unsalted butter cut into bits
Pinch of salt

- Whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, eggs, yolks, and salt in the medium saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk constantly until the mixture is thicken and the curd turns into a really bright yellow
- Press the curd through a fine sieve, for smooth texture, into a bowl
- For this lemon tart, you will have 1/4 cup of lemon curd leftover that can be kept in the fridge - for toasts or scone or muffins or whatever you like – for a week.

The Lemon Tart and the 3 tartlets
- After the crusts cool down, fill them with the lemon curd and garnish with fresh blueberries however you like and do a little dusting with powdered sugar.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Melon-Ginger-Mint Lemonade

I got a beautiful bright yellow Casaba melon another day from the market thinking that this melon gotta be really sweet because of its look, I was wrong! This melon didn’t have much flavor as other melons do. It tasted slightly sweet but very juicy and soft. So, I decided to make a cool drink to cool down my disappointment for this melon. After had a big tall glass of this drink, I was so ready to make my Lemon Tart for the next post. Oh one thing, you can absolutely use other kinds of melon to make this drink, just follow your imagination!

Melon-lemon-melon-lemon-melon-lemon-melon-lemon-melon… Can you say it really fast? ^_^


What you need:
2/3 cup fresh squeeze lemon juice
2/3 cup simple ginger syrup (recipe below)
2 cups filtered water
2 cups melon cut into small chunks
A handful of mint leaves
2 cups frozen melon balls

Simple ginger syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
6-7 thinly slices of fresh ginger
: Heat water, sugar, and ginger slices until the sugar is dissolved.  Leave the ginger to infuse in the syrup and let it cool down before using.

How to:
1. Use a melon baller by pressing down firmly to dig into the melon and then twist to make a circle and scoop out the melon balls.  Freeze the melon balls until they are frozen.  The frozen melon balls will be used in place of ice cubes and make the drink looks pretty!
2. Blend everything in the blender, except for frozen melon balls, and blend until everything comes together smoothly, about 50 seconds or 1 minute.  Strain the liquid using fine sieve, discard the pulps, and chill.  Serve with a few frozen melon balls and mint leaf for garnish.

Enjoy and Stay Cool!

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