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Recipes  «
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
Homemade Marinara Sauce-the "QUICK" version
Topic: Recipes



Everyone loves homemade marinara sauce. There's nothing like the fragrances wafting through the house and nothing like the taste of homemade compared to anything you might purchase in a jar. The best of the best is creating sauce from your own vine-ripened Roma tomatoes at the peak of freshness.

But sometimes, it's the middle of winter.

And sometimes, you can't afford the time it takes to skin and seed the loads of tomatoes it takes to make the “just one quart” that you need/crave NOW. (If you do have that time, then read my recipe for canned marinara sauce from old postings last year!).

Today, I invite you to make my version of Marinara Sauce from canned crushed tomatoes, but “doctor” the seasonings so it becomes your own new recipe.

And substitute fresh herbs from your garden if you can. I believe you will never buy a jar of sauce again.



Quick” Homemade Marinara Sauce

for 1 quart

2 TBSP olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

In a large saucepan, saute the garlic in olive oil about 2-3 minutes to bring out the flavor.


1-- 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (Roma preferred)

½ cup of dry red wine (or 1 TBSP vinegar, if not using wine)

1 TBSP cane sugar

Stir together in the sauce pan. The wine (or vinegar) increases the acidity and the sugar will bring out the tomato flavor.

Stir in seasonings:

1/2-1 tsp salt (acc. to your taste)

½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 TSP each of the following dried spices: parsley, basil, oregano

(You can substitute fresh herbs or equivalent amount of adried Italian blend. Some people also like to add fennel seed.)

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low simmer. Slow-Simmer for an hour. If you want the sauce especially thick, then simmer longer to “reduce” the volume.

Now serve that sauce over a bit of pasta—but if you are avoiding pasta, wouldn't this sauce be nice on medallions of grilled chicken or sliced steak???



Posted by Karen at 10:16 CDT
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Friday, 18 July 2014
Moroccan-Inspired Red Lentil Soup
Topic: Recipes

Mid July already...

the garden's bursting with fresh vegetables, we've just finished the Francophile menu of Bastille Day. Too much typical American grill country and classic, western European food, so, my taste buds started to crave a change.I had a taste for a super-savory and still healthy soup,so I made this wonderful ...

Moroccan Inspired Red Lentil Soup--full of exotic spices, guaranteed to kick lunch or dinner up a few notches. Maybe add some pita, feta cheese cubes and olives on the side?

 Moroccan Inspired Red Lentil Soup

Start with:

2 medium yellow onions, chopped, 4 cloves of garlic, minced, 2 chopped carrots, 2 stalks of celery, also chopped.

In a heavy soup pot, saute the above in 2-3 Tbsp olive oil.

Cook vegetables over low heat until onions are translucent, add more olive oil if needed.

Add a large can (28 oz) of petite diced tomatoes and the juice.

Stir in the following dried spices:

2 tsp ground Coriander

1 tsp. Cumin

1 tsp. Ground Tumeric

1 tsp. Spanish Paprika (“sweet” not hot)

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1 tsp. Salt

Several grinds of fresh black pepper

½ tsp. Red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp. dried Parsley and/or equal parts Parsley-Cilantro blend (or can substitute finely chopped fresh)

Add 7 cups of water and 2 cups of sorted, split dry Red Lentils.

Combine ingredients and bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover.

OPTIONAL: Add 1 cup of cooked, finely chopped ham or smoked turkey or keep it vegetarian.

Simmer the soup about 1 to 1-1/2 hours until the lentils are soft. Add additional water if it seems too thick.

Finally, run the immersion blender through the soup for about 10-12 pulses to puree part of the soup for a thick, serving texture.



Posted by Karen at 13:52 CDT
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Friday, 9 May 2014
Mexican Inspired Beef Brisket- indirect grill or oven bake
Topic: Recipes

Who doesn't love Mexican inspired seasonings and flavors? For the recent Cinco de Mayo, I decided to incorporate the flavors into a beef brisket. I was lucky enough to make this on the indirect grill, but easily could adapt it to oven roasting, like we typically make beef brisket. Either way works, understanding that brisket is typically tougher and needs that slow roasting in juices and/or prolonged indrect grill with slicing of the meat thinly. Compare the meat to your usual corned beef brisket preparations for example.

So, here's the recipe and remember, if it's a chilly Spring day when you decide to make this, you can use the oven preparation. Here's a picture of the brisket with the marinade on, before cooking.



 Mexican Inspired Beef Brisket

Beef brisket- about 3 lbs.

Place brisket in a glass /Pyrex baking dish .

Combine together:

1 can (14.5 oz) Rotelo diced tomatoes and green chilis

1/3 cup Salsa Verde

2 Tbsp. lime juice (can sub. Lemon juice if lime not available)

1 tsp. dried, minced onion

½ tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

Pour the marinade over the brisket, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours.

You can either roast or grill.

To Roast: replace the plastic wrap with aluminum foil, bake covered for 2-3 hours at 325 degrees until tender.

To Grill: remove brisket from marinade and place in the middle of a preheated grill, if gas--using the outer grill bars, middle off, or--if charcoal, then set up for typical indirect grilling using a kettle grill. Close cover and “indirect” grill until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees about 2 hours.

I served this with refried black beans, a garlic vingarette green salad and topped with the typical trio of guacamole, red salsa and sour cream (ok -I used Greek plain yogurt).

Posted by Karen at 09:16 CDT
Updated: Friday, 9 May 2014 09:17 CDT
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Thursday, 1 May 2014
Easy Shepherd Pie and a New Casserole Dish
Topic: Recipes

I love a bargain!

Especially when you least expect to find one.

I was recently in a "supercenter"--just running in for a couple of last minute staples when this great looking casserole dish caught my eye.

There was a clearance rack of miscellaneous items in the middle of a runway, that I had to walk around in order to get to my printer ink cartridge--I couldn't miss it!

I had to buy it. The price was ridiculously right at under $20. 

I know, I have lots of casserole dishes but look at the lovely design with sturdy handles, and the domed lid and the textured sides and perfect COLOR.

You might think about this as a gift for Mother's Day if you have a mother who loves these kinds of things.  

AND--Here's a great recipe to try in the new casserole dish.


Easy Shepherd's Pie

Prep casserole dish with a little spray-oil.

Make a batch of mashed potatoes separately for your topping (about 2-3 cups depending upon your preference) You can also “doctor” these up by stirring in some shredded cheese.

Start with a large skillet:

Brown 2 lbs. ground beef (grassfed, of course!)

Add and cook together with the beef:

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

1- 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with the juice

1 pkt. Lipton Beefy Onion dried soup and dip mix

½ cup of water

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

Dried or fresh thyme leaves and Herbs de Provence (I sprinkle herbs liberally, you can adjust these to your taste preferences)

Salt and pepper to taste (remember there's already salt in the soup mix)

At the end:

Stir in 1 cup of frozen peas or a “country mix” of frozen vegetables.


Bottom layer is the beef mixture.

Top with mashed potatoes.

Sprinkle a little cheese or parsley, paprika, chili powder for color.


Uncovered at 350 degrees until heated through and the potatoes are lightly browned about 45 minutes.




Posted by Karen at 11:49 CDT
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Saturday, 22 March 2014
Corned Beef Hash from St. Paddy's Day leftovers!
Topic: Recipes

I am such a lucky girl--my sister Chris is visiting and loves to cook--

and I had leftovers from a traditional St. Patrick's Day boiled dinner--

you know, corned beef, poataoes, carrots, cabbage... 

So, look what Chris cooked up!

And--here's the recipe!


 Corned Beef Hash

Requires about 1 lb. of leftover corned beef , leftover carrots and cabbage!

Start with the following non-leftovers:

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced

1/2 onion, chopped

Sauté the above

Chop the following leftovers from St. Patrick's Day:

the leftover corned beef (about 1 lb), carrots (1), cabbage (1/3) and add to pan.

(Note: adding potato is traditional BUT we're keeping this lower carb, too!)

Cook on medium high 10- 15 min.  

Add some additional pepper, fresh chopped parsley & salt lightly.



And ...don't you just LOVE this closeup? 





Posted by Karen at 12:11 CDT
Updated: Saturday, 22 March 2014 12:12 CDT
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Thursday, 20 March 2014
A Veggie Dinner from leftovers?
Topic: Recipes

A Veggie Dinner from leftovers?

Why not? Tonight I had no time, but I had a leftover sweet potato and some baked beans. I also had a frozen package of Amy's vegetarian enchiladas, a nice pre-made-for-one main course.



Of course, if you're not eating “solo” then you really should create your own “Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas” which can be done with no difficulty at all.

All you'll need is some corn (or other whole grain) tortillas, a can of enchilada sauce, and some veggies to oven-roast.

Roasted Vegetables for Enchiladas

Parchment paper to line a baking pan.

Assorted vegetables, fresh or frozen, cut into diced-sized pieces. Suggest: corn kernels, zucchini, onions, bell pepper-any color, potato, eggplant, canned—rinsed and drained—beans,

Put diced vegetables into a mixing bowl. Toss veggies with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a few cloves of minced garlic, salt and pepper—until coated.

Spread vegetables on the parchment lined pan and roast at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until cooked.

Remove veggies back to mixing bowl. Mix vegetables with ½ can of enchilada sauce.

On an open tortilla, place about 2 Tbsp of the vegetable mixture.

Roll the tortilla. Place in a fresh baking pan.

Cover rolled enchiladas with the remaining ½ can of enchilada sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees until heated through.


Sprinkle with your choice of shredded mexican cheese blend. Add sour cream, guacamole, etc.

Add sides—baked sweet potato, plantains, refried beans, baked beans—maybe some cooked greens or cole slaw or green salad--and similar, are all great ideas.

Posted by Karen at 17:59 CDT
Updated: Thursday, 20 March 2014 18:11 CDT
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Saturday, 15 March 2014
Vegetable Lasagne
Topic: Recipes

I am still craving vegetables and so happy to remember my home-canned foods from last Summer that remain "garden-fresh".

I've been drinking the wonderful Tomato juice cocktail (my piano teacher's recipe that's in past blogs). Last night, I made Vegetable Lasagne and used a quart of my homemade marinara sauce (that recipe is also in past blogs.)

Here's the recipe for Vegetable Lasagne!


Vegetable Lasagne

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray prep baking dish.

6 lasagne noodles, cooked

8 oz. shredded Italian blend cheeses

Shredded Parmesan cheese, 2-3 Tbsp.

Saute the following together, until cooked, in 2-3 Tbsp olive oil:

2 carrots chopped, 1 small onion chopped, 4 oz. portabello mushrooms, chopped.

Add 2 oz. chopped black olives.

Open 1 quart of marinara sauce (hopefully your homemade marinara sauce!), pour about ¾ cup sauce on bottom of lasagne pan, then add remaining marina sauce to above vegetables and mix in. Remove from heat.

In a separate bowl combine:

10 oz. chopped fresh spinach, which has been sauteed in 2 Tbsp. Olive oil, with 4 large cloves of chopped garlic and a couple sprinkles of nutmeg

2 eggs

15 oz. Ricotta cheese

1/2 tsp salt , 1/2 tsp. Red pepper flakes

Assemble lasagne as follows:

Layer ¾ cup of plain marinara sauce on bottom of pan (see above).

Layer 3 lasagne noodles.

Layer ½ of Ricotta cheese mixture.

Layer 4 oz. shredded Italian blend cheese.

Layer 1/2 marinara-vegetable mixture.

Layer. 3 lasagne noodles.

Layer remaining ½ of Ricotta cheese mixture.

Layer 4 oz. shredded Italian blend cheese.

Layer remaining 1/2 of marinara-vegetable mixture.

Sprinkle 2-3 Tbsp. Shredded Parmesan.




Bake at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes until set. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. 



Posted by Karen at 14:01 CDT
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Thursday, 6 February 2014
Beef Stroganoff- hearty simplicity!
Topic: Recipes

 Beef Stroganoff...

Here's yet another deceptively easy crockpot recipe that you can start before work, then come home to the beautiful fragrance of a home-cooked dinner. And you likely have all the ingredients in the house right now.



Beef Stroganoff (in the crockpot)

Prep crockpot liner with a light spray-oil.

Mix together: 

2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into bite-sized cubes

1 can of Golden Mushroom soup, undiluted 

1 can drained sliced mushrooms

1/2 small onion, chopped (optional)

salt, pepper,dried thyme

Cook together on "Low" at least 8 hours.

About 15 minutes before serving, stir in:

2 Tbso, flour, stirred into 1/2 cup of sour cream.

Stir the sour cream-flour blend into the stroganoff in the crockpot. Allow to cook together until sides are ready. 

Beef Stroganoff is usually served over cooked egg noodles. However, I decided to do this dinner over brown rice. Plated in a large dinner bowl, my side green vegetable is steamed Russian red kale (had it in the freezer, blanched, from the garden last Summer!) over which I drizzled a little vinegar and oil.

 Hmm...Beef Stroganoff with Russian Red Kale...

inspired by Sochi 2014??? 


Posted by Karen at 09:09 CST
Updated: Thursday, 6 February 2014 09:13 CST
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Tuesday, 4 February 2014
Broccoli Cheese Soup
Topic: Recipes

Apparently the gopher saw his shadow, thus 6 more weeks of Winter.

Oh, that we could be so lucky and only have 6 more weeks and not 3 more months, which is what I suspect will turn out to be the fact...

So, I think we need to be reminded of an easy recipe for a hearty soup, Broccoli Cheese Soup. Note that you can substitute frozen Cauliflower for the Broccoli or even choose a Broccoli-Cauliflower blend! 


 Broccoli-Cheese Soup

6 servings

Saute together in a soup pot in 2-3 tbsp. Olive oil:

½ onion, chopped fine

1 stalk of celery, chopped fine

1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine


32 oz chicken broth

16 oz. frozen, chopped broccoli

2 carrots, chopped into smaller pieces

Salt, pepper and parsley

Simmer with lid on until the broccoli and carrots are throughly cooked and soft about 30 minutes.

Stir in:

2 Tbsp. Flour mixed in 1 cup of milk

Simmer additional 5 minutes, while stirring.

Then, stir in:

8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

Pulse with the immersion blender, directly in the pot,a few times to puree some of the soup, especially the larger pieces, leaving smaller pieces intact.



Posted by Karen at 10:03 CST
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Sunday, 2 February 2014
Superbowl Roast Beef Sandwiches
Topic: Recipes

I know it's last minute...

But, here's a quick idea for tonight's game menu. (Remember, you have to work tomorrow so you don't want everyone just eating snacks for dinner!) 

 Crockpot Roast Beef

Lightly spray-oil the crockpot. 

Place a 2-3 lb. round or sirloin tip roast in the crockpot.

Add 1 can of undiluted Golden Mushroom Soup (if you want a thicker gravy)

OR--Add 1 can of undiluted French Onion soup (if you want an "au Jus" type gravy)

Cover the crockpot, cook on low until game time (about 8-10 hours-you can't overcook). Do NOT be tempted to dilute the soup or peek or add any water!

When ready to serve, take the roast out to a platter, allow to rest about 10 minutes, then slice thinly for sandwiches.  Return slices to the crockpot and gravy to keep warm until your side dishes are ready.

IF you want a thicker gravy, when the meat is on the platter, whisk in a rounded tablespoon of flour directly into the crockpot juices, until thickened.




For sides--

how about a vinegar-and -oil or creamy cole slaw (mayonnaise, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, onion powder, dillweed) 

maybe some "doctored up" smokey baked beans?

and "cheesy potato casserole" (those boxed potato casseroles are not a bad idea and when you sneak in some kale or spinach, they'll never know) 

 Have a great Game Night!


Posted by Karen at 09:30 CST
Updated: Tuesday, 4 February 2014 10:09 CST
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