The Cookbook Challenge! Garden Pasta!

The Cookbook Challenge!  Garden Pasta!

If you’re like me, you might be feeling a little overrun with all the fresh veggies you’ve picked from your garden before the fall freeze gets to them.  This month’s Cookbook Challenge came partly out of desperation to find creative ways to use up some of our abundant tomato harvest.

The Cookbook Challenge!

“My green thumb has come only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view.”  H. Fred Ale

At Home With Ina Garten!

One of the ways my hubby  likes to unwind after a long day at work, is to kick back and watch a good cooking show.  (I know…funny!)  If you were to ask me who his favorite Food Network chef is…hands down, it would be Ina Garten, better known as the Barefoot Contessa.  I think it’s her homey meals served without a lot of fanfare to family and friends, including her congenial husband, Jeffrey, who has become a celebrity of sorts, in his own right.

While it’s true that we own several cookbooks, we have collected more of Ina Garten’s than any other chef…and her “Barefoot Contessa At Home” is a favorite, because like it states on the cover, it truly is great recipes you’ll use over and over again…so it just made sense that in searching for a fun, new recipe to use some of our tomatoes in, I reached for this cookbook.

Ina Garten cookbook.

“My extravagance is my garden, it’s the first thing I look at every morning, it gives me such pleasure.”   Ina Garten

We’ve made quite a few recipes from this cookbook, but this was the first time trying this one…it’s the perfect recipe trifecta; simple, healthy and delicious!

Garden Pasta

Ina Garten explains that she got this recipe from a good friend, Jean Halberstam, who had a cookware store in Nantucket where they both lived.  She also states that the recipe is the essence of summer lingering into fall–that sold me!

4-6 cups cherry tomatoes, halved 

Garden pasta recipe.

This year, we planted a fun variety of tomatoes in our garden…from heirloom, to assorted cherry tomatoes, as well as the popular red celebrity tomatoes.  I cut all the tomatoes I used to about the same size as the halved cherry tomatoes.  

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

2 tbsp. minced garlic 

Since we like garlic on the lighter side, I sprinkled garlic powder to taste.

1/2 small red onion, minced

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Freshly chopped basil leaves

1 pound angel hair pasta  

Garden pasta recipe.

I like a little more substantial pasta with this recipe, so I used the Al Dente brand fettucine noodles.  They have a great, fresh taste and cook up quickly too.  

1 1/2  cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving.

Combine the cut tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, basil leaves, salt and pepper into a large bowl.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to let marinate.  You could also do this the night before too.  

Right before serving, bring a large pot of water with 2 tbsp. salt and a splash of olive oil to boil and add pasta.  Cook according to directions on the package.  It usually takes only 2-3 minutes if using angle hair pasta. 

Drain cooked pasta well, then stir it into tomato mixture.  Add parmesan cheese and toss well.  Garnish with more basil leaves if desired.  I added some toasted pine nuts too; they give the recipe a tasty crunch factor.

Serve in large bowls and enjoy!

The Cookbook Challenge! Garden Pasta!Recipe!

“It’s hard to have anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato”  Tribute Journal  

Now, more than ever before, we find ourselves yearning to gather with family and friends around a good meal, sharing laughter and expressions of love!

I’d love to know the fresh veggie recipes you enjoy this time of year.

–Mary

Oh September!

Oh September!

After a busy summer and record breaking heat where I live in Utah, I’m more than ready for the cooler temperatures and the fall lull of September.

Oh September!

“Life starts all over again…when it gets cool and crisp in the fall!”      F. Scott Fitzgerald

I’ve often heard the statement that autumn is mother nature’s second spring…if that’s the case, then it’s all the more reason to make the most of September!

Making It A September To Remember!

I love that I live where I get to experience all four seasons!  For me, September is that ideal mix of lingering summer activities that converge with the rich colors and mild weather of fall.mSeptemberQuoteHere are a few of the things I look forward to this month–as I try to make it a September to remember…

• Fall Harvest!

Come early fall, my husband and I are always excited to pick some of the fresh vegetables from our small garden, but we also love visiting some of the fun fruit stands that pop up along some of the back roads around our hometown.

Fall fruit stands.

“Autumn is the mellow season–where what we lose in flowers, we more than gain in fruits.”  Samuel Butler

I don’t think there is anything quite like the taste of fresh fruits and vegetables, eaten fresh or grilled to perfection, as you enjoy those last family BBQ’s of the season.  (We buy corn at a local family farm stand where the kids raise and sell the corn to earn money for college tuition and extracurricular school activities; how great is that!) 

Grilled corn.

“You don’t have to cook complicated masterpieces, just good food from fresh ingredients!”  Julia Child

• Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice!

Speaking of yummy fall foods…how about all the warm, pumpkin spiced, comfort foods we love to eat this time of year!  This simple recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake that my daughter came across, is a fall staple in our family.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Cake recipe!

This recipe is great for cookies or muffins too.  I’ve seen people drizzle it with a powdered sugar glaze or frost with cream cheese frosting.  I sprinkle on a few extra chocolate chips before putting it in the oven. 

recipe.png

This recipe is easy to make and so moist and delicious!    

• Back To School!

While I thoroughly love summer…my father instilled in me a great love for going to school and getting a good education!

Back to school.

Come the first day of school…my dad would often crank up the old Gene Autry cowboy song, “Back In The Saddle Again” –whenever I started a new school year; while I didn’t think it was very funny at the time…traditions die hard, and I ended up doing the same to my kids!  (They are following suit and play it for their kids going to school too!) 

• Beautiful Earth Tones!

I’m a 70’s hippie throw-back of sorts–so the deep earth tone colors of fall definitely speak to my heart!

Fall mums.

(J & J Garden Center)

Mueller Park leaves

(Mueller Canyon Park)

Whether you are just making a stop at a local nursery, or going on a hike at a nearby park, you can’t help but feel that all is right with the world, even for a brief time, as you view all the gorgeous fall foliage.

• Sweater Weather!

Believe me, I love the casual days of capri’s and flip-flops, but come summer’s end, I have to admit, I kind of get excited to pull on a comfy knit sweater, maybe a plaid scarf and some fun leather boots.

Fall is sweater weather!

I know, it’s still 90+ degrees outside…but it’s never too early to start planning ahead for cooler weather; my fall “go to” is usually a great cable-knit sweater in a fun fall color and some leggings.

(I bought this sweater on sale last year at Miss Iny, but I’ve seen some darling sweaters recently at local stores like H & M and Gap.) 

Fall plaid scarf.

…and yes, please give me all the pretty plaid scarves for fall!

(You won’t be surprised to hear that Target has a great selection of scarves.)

• Anticipating the Holidays!

I always look forward to my annual Halloween Festival with my grandkids…and since Halloween décor and trinkets make their debut in stores with the back to school supplies, it’s easy to get a head start on the items needed for my party in September.  My grandchildren love to start planning their cute costumes now too!!

Halloween costumes.

I love the spirit of Halloween and the energy that comes with it!  Katharine Hepburn

• Helping Texas!

I also want to express my deep heartache at all the devastation Texas has had to withstand this past week…may September be a month of recovery and new beginnings for them!  I hope we can all try and find at least one way, however small, to help out.  If you scroll to the end of this article, it lists a variety of resources available to offer assistance.  You’re in our thoughts and prayers, Texas!

Help Texas!

“We rise by lifting others!”  Robert Ingersoll

I hope it’s a fall of sweet surprises for all of you!

What are some of the things that make fall a magical time for you?

–Mary

The Cookbook Challenge! Recipes From Huckleberry!

The Cookbook Challenge!  Recipes From Huckleberry!

Recently, I tried my hand at another epic Cookbook Challenge from a wonderful cookbook that my husband and I bought, in part, because of the stories the author, Zoe Nathan, shares of her adventures in baking.

The Cookbook Challenge!

There’s nothing that endears you to a cookbook more than reading about the “inside” story, so to speak, of how it came about…after reading about Huckleberry, one of my goals in life is meet the unique and enterprising author of this cookbook!  The recipes are also mostly breakfast and brunch recipes, which are my weakness, so of course, this cookbook is quickly becoming a favorite!

Huckleberry Cookbook by Zoe Nathan

My husband was drawn to this unique cookbook because he remembers picking huckleberries as a young boy by his uncle’s farm in Idaho.

Huckleberry cookbook.

I just knew that a cookbook with polka dot paper edges had to be worth trying!

In her fun writing style, Zoe Nathan tells the reader that there are two ways to use her cookbook:

“If you choose to wake up at 6 A.M. to surprise your family with muffins made by exactly following one of our recipes, I promise you will be successful and get a lot of extra praise and appreciation from your family.  You can also use these recipes to give you guidance, messing around with them, inserting your own ideas, until you get it exactly as you want it.  I will certainly not be offended.  Remember, baking is supposed to be fun, so don’t take yourself too seriously while doing it!”

Huckleberry Cafe in Santa Monica, California

The Huckleberry cookbook also shares the name of  Zoe Nathan’s bakery and café in Santa Monica, California!  Anybody game for a road trip!!

Besides being a visual feast, Huckleberry cookbook features recipes that are hearty and healthy where basic ingredients are combined in a way that you won’t soon forget the deliciousness–they’ll put a whole new twist to your next upcoming family get-together!

Huckleberry Cookbook Challenge!

Huckleberry bakery and cafe.

Zoe Nathan first met her husband, Joel Loeb, when she was hired to bake pastries at his restaurant, Rustic Canyon.  Their “real life” collaboration was meant to be…together they own and bake for Huckleberry Bakery and Café now! 

Huckleberry Monte Cristo Sandwiches! 

I had my first delectable Monte Cristo sandwich at a local deli and was hooked from the first yummy bite!  That deli has since closed up shop, so when I saw the recipe in Huckleberry for these sandwiches, I knew it would be one of the first things I made from this wonderful cookbook!

Ingredients:  Serves 3

3 tbsp. heavy cream

You can use half and half or milk too–I love the cream.

3 sage leaves  I don’t add this.

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Pinch of fresh ground pepper

3 eggs whisked

1 tsp. sugar

9 slices brioche bread

Brioche bread.

The Huckleberry cookbook has a recipe for Brioche bread, I just bought mine.  Challah bread works great too.

4 tbsp. Dijon mustard

I don’t usually like Dijon, but it’s good in these.

6 tbsp. mayonnaise

12 thin slices of ham

I like Land O’ Frost Bistro Favorites Black Forest ham.

1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese 

Sometimes I substitute Swiss cheese, which is just as good.

Blueberry jam

Huckleberry homemade jam recipe after sandwich instructions.

Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions:

In a small sauce pan, bring cream to boil with sage, salt and pepper.  Allow to cool completely.  Whisk in eggs and sugar.  Put in refrigerator until needed.

To build the sandwiches, start by laying out all nine slices of bread.  On 3 slices spread mustard; set aside.  On the 6 remaining slices spread mayo, and divide the ham and cheese on these bread slices.  Put mustard-covered bread slices on top of 3 of the ham and cheese slices, then invert those onto the last 3 ham and cheese slices.  This makes 3 triple decker sandwiches with the mustard slices in the middle.  To be honest, I don’t make triple decker sandwiches, but I’m sure I would love every extra yummy bite of bread if I ordered these at Huckleberry!

When you’re ready to cook sandwiches, heat 1 tbsp. of butter in large saucepan over medium heat; dip the sandwiches in egg batter until well coated and cook until the top, bottom and sides of sandwiches are goldeny brown and cheese is melted.  Slice and serve with a light dusting of powdered sugar and a dollop of blueberry jam,  the recipe for Huckleberry homemade blueberry jam is below.

Cooking with a skillet.

I cook these in a cast iron skill because it creates the best golden brown color. 

Blueberry Jam:

4 cups fresh blueberries

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup water

Combine above ingredients in medium stainless-steel saucepan.  simmer until jammy, about 15-20 minutes.  Serve as dip for Monte Cristo sandwiches.  This will keep good for approximately two weeks in your refrigerator. 

Homemade bluberry jam.

This jam is easy to make and used for several recipes throughout the cookbook.

The Cookbook Challenge! Recipes From Huckleberry!

Every Monte Cristo sandwich I’ve ever eaten has always been cut into fourths, making them the perfect triangle size for dipping in the jam.

I have also had Monte Cristo sandwiches served with turkey slices add along with the ham and cheese, with strawberry or raspberry jam.  

Zoe Nathan states in her introduction, that this cookbook came about largely due to the fact that after she had her son, baking became more personal and she loved to make him freshly baked goodies from her own kitchen; it gave her a great sense of satisfaction.  That’s the special feeling she wanted to share with us in her Huckleberry cookbook.

If you try this recipe, let me know how you liked it.  Any new recipes you’ve tried lately and absolutely loved?

Happy baking…..and eating!  Mary