Cooking from the Garden
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I LUV to cook...  especially taking the veggies straight outta the garden!! Tomatoes and peppers and zucchini and lettuce and more!!  When time allows I will commit a couple of personal recipes to this page but for now the recipes below are quite good.

Make sure you thoroughly wash all veggies, whether freshly picked or store bought and even if you use organic methods. The beneficial bacteria used to control insects probably won't hurt you but why take that chance?

I've found the best way to wash freshly picked lettuce is to immerse in water rather than under a running faucet. A very large bowl, 16-20 inch diameter, work well, both for collecting the greens in the garden and then filling with water initially from the hose in the garden. Fill and drain the bowl at least once, then fill about half way to take into the kitchen. Working on the counter with a smaller bowl and colander, swish and rinse the greens then transfer to the colander. One last rinse under the faucet then a good shake over the sink before going back to the counter and pulling the separate clumps of greens from the colander to place on paper towels or into a salad spinner. 
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Summertime Salads

Author: Arleen M. Kaptur

Summertime-the living is easy-or it should be! Meals are lighter, and usually taken outdoors. Appetites are not receptive to hot, heavy food and cooking time should be at a minimum. So what's the solution - when you come home after a day's work, or time out with the family at the beach or the zoo? You want something quick, tasty, cool and refreshing, but it should satisfy those hunger pangs. Summertime salads - fit right into summertime activities and fun.

TASTY TURKEY DINNER SALAD:

1-1/2 cups fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced in half
1 10-1/2 oz. can mandarin orange sections
1-1/2 cups seedless green or red grapes, or a combination of both
2 heads Belgian endive, Bibb, iceberg, or Boston lettuce, or a combination
16 ozs. sliced full cooked smoked turkey breast (from the deli) or honey roasted turkey
Creamy ranch or buttermilk dressing
1/2 cup sliced almonds


Prepare strawberries and drain mandarin oranges. Wash grapes and dry with paper toweling. In a mixing bowl, combine the fruit. Set aside in refrigerator to chill. Wash, separate the lettuce leaves, and pat dry. Line individual salad plates with the lettuce, Arrange the turkey slices on top of the lettuce leaves, and spoon the fruit on top of the turkey. You can also place the turkey on one side of the plate and the fruit on the other, if you prefer. Spoon your choice of dressing across both the turkey and the fruit. Sprinkle with almonds and serve. Serve warm rolls, ice-cold lemonade, and chocolate brownies - you have a great, quick and satisfying meal.

IN THE ISLANDS SALAD

1 8-ozs. pkg. medium noodles
1 avocado, halved, pit removed and peeled
fresh lemon juice
1 15-1/2oz. can crab meat, drained, flaked, and cartilage removed or salad pollock, cut into chunks
5 ozs salad shrimp, rinsed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup dairy sour cream
3 tbs. sliced green onions
2 tbs. chili sauce
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
assorted lettuce leaves
1/2 cup chopped pistachio nuts


Cook the noodles until tender; drain. Rinse with cold water. Slice the avocado into lengthwise slices. Brush with the fresh lemon juice to prevent darkening. In a bowl, combine the noodles, avocado slices, the drained pineapple, crab meat and shrimp. For dressing - combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, sliced green onions, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and dry mustard. Spoon the dressing over the salad mixture. Gently combine so that the dressing coats the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 3-4 hours. To serve, line individual salad plates with lettuce leaves. Spoon salad mixture onto the lettuce leaves and sprinkle with the nuts. Serve with sliced French bread, iced tea or coffee, and chocolate chip cookies. Cool and smooth!

Decorate your food with these simple garnishes:

Orange Chrysanthemum:

Score the peel of 3 oranges into 8 sections, cutting to but not cutting through the base of the peel. Carefully remove the peel from the fruit, keeping the shell all in one piece. Pull the fruit sections apart and carefully remove any of the white pulp membranes. With scissors, cut the sectioned peels into small petals by cutting to the base, but not cutting through. Place some orange sections in one peel shell. Insert this shell into another shell. And then the third. You have a very full and beautiful accent on any plate.

Frosted Grapes:

FOR GARNISH ONLY - Combine slightly beaten egg white with a little water. Brush the mixture over a cluster of red or green grapes, using a pastry brush. Sprinkle with granulated sugar until covered. Shake off excess. Dry on rack and you have a very beautiful color garnish.

Serving sandwiches:

Slice pickle lengthwise almost to the stem end, but not through. Make fairly thin slices. Spread each fan and press the uncut end of the pickle gently so that the fan will hold its shape when placed next to a sandwich.

COOK'S CHOICE SALAD:

5 ozs. each sliced turkey, ham, roast beef, Swiss cheese, and American cheese or Muenster cheese
1 cucumber, 2 tomatoes, 1 head iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, red cabbage, carrots and radishes (or buy a bag of prepared salad mix for even easier meal preparation)


Cut the meat and cheese into lengthwise strips. Slice the cucumber and the tomato. Wash, pat dry, and chop the lettuce. Also shred the cabbage, carrots and radishes. Combine the lettuce, cabbage, carrots and radishes together. Place in large bowl. Top with the strips of meat and cheese. Garnish with the cucumber and tomato slices. Serve with Russian, Thousand Island, or Ranch dressing.

Great with rye bread slices, raspberry juice punch, and slices of pound cake topped with fresh berries and a dollop of whipped topping. This will satisfy even the heartiest summertime appetite!

Summertime and salads go together like lazy afternoons and gentle evening breezes. They keep the cook out of the kitchen and everyone satisfied.

ENJOY!

©Arleen M. Kaptur 2002 June

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Arleen Kaptur has written numerous articles, cookbooks, how-to books, and the novel: SEARCHING FOR AUSTIN JAMES  Website: http://www.arleenssite.com
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Eggplant / Aubergine
By Jennifer A. Wickes Copyright 2001
History / Geography
Eggplants are native to China and India. They are believed to have been introduced to the Europeans by the Arabs.


Varieties / Season July through October
Eggplants are members of the Nightshade family. Other members include potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. Despite the fact the culinary world treats eggplants like a vegetable, in biology, an eggplant is a fruit. Varieties include, but are not limited to: Japanese / Asian, Italian / Baby, White Beauty, Black Beauty, Burpee Hybrid and Early Beauty. Depending on these varieties, their colors range from white to a deep purple, they range in size from 2 to 12 inches (5 – 30 cm) and they can be oblong to round in shape.


How to Choose
Choose eggplants that are firm to the touch, have a smooth and shiny skin and are heavy. Avoid eggplants with brown or soft spots and have a dull color.


How to Store
Store in a cool dry place, but avoid placing near tomatoes and apples as they give off a gas that enhances the ripening process. Use the eggplant within 2 days. If necessary, the eggplant may be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for as long as 5 days.


Cooking Hints
(1) Do not cook in an aluminum pan. Aluminum makes eggplants discolor.
(2) The skin is edible in younger eggplants. Remove the peel in older eggplants.
(3) Cut each fruit before using, just like bananas. The flesh of the fruit will brown.
(4) Eggplant absorbs oil very easily; coat your eggplant with breadcrumbs, cornmeal or flour first before frying.
(5) To help reduce the bitter flavor in older eggplants, slice the eggplant into ½ inch pieces and salt heavily. Weigh down each slice in a colander and allow for the liquid to drain out of the eggplant for 30 minutes. Rinse each slice with cold water and pat dry. This method is called "dégorgeing". It is best to use this method before frying.
(6) In order to bake your eggplant; slice your eggplant in half. Score across the interior of each half. Add tiny slices of garlic to go into each score. Salt each half, and bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes. The eggplant is done when it is nicely browned and tender when pierced.
(7) When wanting to roast your eggplant, cut your eggplant into ½ inch slices. Toss in olive oil, salt, pepper and any of the other suggested spices below. Arrange the eggplant in a single layer in a baking dish (not aluminum). Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. The eggplant is done when it is nicely browned and tender when pierced.


Spices
Basil, chervil, cumin, garlic, mace, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, sage, savory, sesame seed, tarragon, thyme


Equivalents / Substitutions
1 pound = 3 ½ cup diced raw = 1 ¾ cup diced cooked = 4 servings


Nutritional Values
Eggplants contain Vitamin C and Potassium. Other than these two nutrients, eggplants do not have a significant nutrient value. Eggplants also have anti-bacterial, diuretic effects, as well as flavonoids (cancer fighting anti-oxidants). 1 cup cooked contains 25 calories.


Suggested Wines
Depending on how you fix your eggplant, try drinking a Chardonnay, a Grenache Rosé or a Zinfandel.


Recipes

Eggplant Parmigiana
6 Servings


2-eggplants, unpeeled, cut into ¼-inch rounds
2-eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½-cups breadcrumbs
1/2-teaspoon salt
1/8-teaspoon pepper
1-garlic clove, peeled and halved
3/4-cup olive oil
20-ounces canned tomatoes
1/3-cup tomato paste
2-tablespoons minced fresh basil
1-teaspoon salt
1/8-teaspoon pepper
1-cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2-pound mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced


DIP EGGPLANT SLICES IN EGGS, then in breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper. Refrigerate 20 minutes. In a large saucepan, sauté garlic in 2 tablespoons oil for 1-2 minutes. Remove garlic and add tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F. Brown eggplant in 1/4-inch oil in a large skillet. Drain on paper towels. Put a thin layer of tomato sauce into a baking dish and layer eggplant, sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella, alternately. End with mozzarella on top. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Source: Public domain recipes converted from Meal Master format

Ratatouille
6 Servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium dice eggplant
3 cups tomato concasse
3 cups medium dice zucchini
2 cups medium dice onions
2 cups medium dice, seeded green bell peppers
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced parsley


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, over a medium-moderate flame. Add the remaining ingredients (except parsley). Heat and stir for 8-10 minutes until softened, without browning. Add parsley-mix well. Arrange onto a serving platter. Serve warm, with crostini to the side.

Source: TJ Hill - Appetites Catered

This article was originally published at Suite 101.
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Jennifer Wickes is the editor and writer at "Cooking With The Seasons". To visit her site, go to:
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More Than Pumpkin Pie
by Cindy Sanchez
It is the peak of pumpkin harvest time and though pumpkins are not generally one of the more popular cooked squashes, don't be so quick to turn it away in the kitchen. While Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins are abundant this time of year, if you are looking to use pumpkin for cooking, you should choose a type that is specifically grown for baking and eating quality.

Tried and True Recipes at Allrecipes.comBest Cooking Pumpkin
The sugar pumpkin - small in size, usually weighing 1.4 to 3.5 pounds


How to Purchase
Make sure the pumpkin is bright in color, free of blemishes and solid/dense for its size.


Storing
Pumpkins may be stored at room temperature for up to a month and in the refrigerator for 3 months.


How to Use
Pumpkins may be used the same as any other winter squash.


Equivalents
Fresh pumpkin: 5 pound pumpkin is equal to about 4.5 cups cooked and mashed
Canned pumpkin: a 15 ounce can is equal to 1.75 cups mashed


Pumpkin Recipes:
Creamy Pumpkin Soup
1 small to medium pumpkin
1 quart cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons Sugar
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 15 ounce can pumpkin
Cut top of pumpkin (remove and save lid) scoop out all of the stringy contents and seeds and discard. Scrape out as much pumpkin as possible being careful not to break pumpkin shell or make any holes in it. When you have removed all of the pulp that you can, place the pulp in a pan and cook until soft with 1/2 cup of water over medium heat. When the pulp is soft cool a little and place in food processor and pulse until creamy. Grind cloves in chopper until pretty fine and combine with other spices. Place all ingredients except cream in large pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for about 10 minutes. If you need to, add a little water, 1/2 cup, to keep from sticking, be sure it doesn't scorch. Add cream and blend well, reduce heat to low and let cook about 10 more minutes. Pour soup into pumpkin shell, replace lid and serve.

Sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese.  Makes about 8-10.

Free Revival Soy Low-Carb Variety KitSpicy Pumpkin Dip

1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons tahini, sesame paste
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper


In a food processor, process pumpkin and chickpeas until fairly smooth. Add remaining ingredients to food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste. Serve with pita chips.  Makes 3 cups.

Pumpkin Bread
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon (well rounded teaspoon)
1 teaspoons nutmeg
2 1/2 cups sugar
Sift or stir all the above.
Add:
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
2 cups pumpkin
1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)


Spray 2 loaf pans with non-stick spray; set aside. Mix just until creamy. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.

Pumpkin Bars

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2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 16-ounce can pumpkin
1 cup cooking oil
1 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting


In bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a mixer bowl, beat eggs, pumpkin, sugar and oil. Add flour mixture; beat well. Stir in pecans. Spread in ungreased 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
Beat together a 3 ounce package cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Gradually add 2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar, beating until smooth.
Frost bars and sprinkle with additional pecans.


Makes 2 dozen bars.

Pumpkin Surprise
Mix together:
1 large can of pumpkin
1 can evaporated milk
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice


Place in ungreased 9 x 13" baking pan.
Sprinkle over top:
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans


Drizzle: 1 1/2 cubes melted margarine (real butter is even better!)

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool completely before serving. Good by itself or with ice cream.

Pumpkin with Rice Stuffing
1 5 or 6 lb.pumpkin (make sure their is a stem)
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion (to yield 1/2 cup) -- chopped
1 medium celery stalk (to yield 1/2 cup) -- sliced
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup cooked wild rice
1/4 cup raisins or currants
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 slices whole wheat bread -- cut into cubes
1 cup apple cider
Heat oven to 375. Cut out lid from top of pumpkin. Remove seeds and fibers from pumpkin.

Melt butter in a 10" skillet over medium heat. Cook onion and celery in butter, stirring occasionally until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients except cider. Fill pumpkin with rice mixture. Pour cider over rice mixture. Cover with pumpkin lid.

Place pumpkin in ungreased 8 x 8" pan. Bake for about 2 hours or until pumpkin is tender. Let stand 15 minutes. To serve, remove lid and cut pumpkin into wedges.  Serves 6.
Helpful Source: The New Food Lover's Tiptionary: More Than 6,000 Food and Drink Tips, Secrets, Shortcuts, and Other Things Cookbooks Never Tell You by Sharon Tyler Herbst

About the Author:
Cindy Sanchez is the owner and editor of www.PracticalKitchen.com . Sign up for our Practical Recipes Newsletter for delivery of many savory recipes to your mailbox each week mailto:PracticalRecipes-on@mail-list.com
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Resources...
Breakfast Tortilla Wraps
  • 1 strip turkey bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green sweet pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 2 egg whites, slightly beaten, or 1/4 cup refrigerated egg product
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tomato
  • Few dashes bottled hot pepper sauce (optional)
  • 1 warmed 8-inch fat-free flour tortilla
In a medium nonstick skillet cook bacon until crisp. Add green pepper, cumin, and salt and crushed red pepper, if desired. Cook for 3 minutes. Add egg whites or egg product; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in tomato and hot pepper sauce, if desired. Spoon onto tortilla and roll up. Makes 1 serving.

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