Chris' Recipes

Bon Appetite!

Canning Tomatoes

Written By: Chris - Sep• 12•17

I received these Roma tomatoes free from my friend Ginny who simply didn’t have time to can this year.  The original batch was very large and had blight, which is a disease caused by a fungus-like organism that spreads rapidly in the foliage and tubers or fruit of potatoes and tomatoes in wet weather, causing collapse and decay.  After some research, I discovered that the tomatoes are safe to eat with a little bit of attention and the removal of the dark, leathery areas.  I simply pureed the good parts of the cut tomatoes, including their skin and canned about eight quarts.  Both green and ripe tomatoes can be affected, so I discarded any of them that I had doubt and allowed the clean green tomatoes to ripen for about another week.  I like the Roma variety for canning because they are meatier than some of the other tomato varieties.

 

These are canning directions for the water-bath method. Raw packed, petite diced with no water added.

Ingredients:
Roma tomatoes
Lemon Juice or Citric Acid

Start by washing and your jars in hot soapy water and rinse them well.

 

Meanwhile, boil a pot of water for blanching.  I also like to get the canning pot of water prepared by bringing it to a boil before turning it off and covering it off for quick reheating later when needed.

Start with clean tomatoes.

I make an “X” on the narrow end of the tomatoes.  These tomatoes were about the size of a large egg, so I blanched six to eight at a time.  Along with your blanching pot of water, set up another bowl of cold water adjacent to it.  Also, add a third bowl to place the unpeeled tomatoes in, as well as a fourth bowl that you will place the peeled tomatoes in for later cutting.  I suggest having a trash or compost handy to work over.

Choose mesh strainer with a handle if you have one, or you could always use a large slotted spoon. Place some tomatoes onto the strainer before dipping them into boiling water for 30-60 seconds or so. “Hey Siri” came in handy for me because as the tomatoes boiled, I continued to make “X’s” in the upcoming ones that were to be boiled.

Once the timer goes off or you see the skins splitting, scoop them out and place them directly into the bowl of the cold water bath to stop the cooking.  Swirl them around in the cold water for a few seconds and place them into another bowl for skin removal.

You should be able to slip the skins off easily with your fingers and a pairing knife. I also like to cut out the small root end at the same time and discard the skins.  Once the skins are off, place them in the last bowl until you have peeled all of the tomatoes.

I continued to work in batches scoring the tomatoes while the others were in the hot boiling water and the entire process took about an hour.

Once you have removed all of the skins you may choose to leave the tomatoes whole, half them, or dice them, however you prefer. I like the petitte diced cut but this too takes time.  About another half an hour.

You will want to heat your jars before filling them so that they can hold up to the hot temperatures in the canning pot. You can do this by either by pulling them from a hot cycle of your dishwasher or by placing them in a sink of hot water to heat the glass.

 

Since you are canning tomatoes in a water bath canner, add either a teaspoon of Citric Acid or bottled lemon per pint or two teaspoons per quart. This is also a good time to heat the lids to the jar. Place lids in a sauce pan, and fill with water to cover them. Heat water to 180 degrees, but do not boil them. Turn the heat off and keep the lids heated until you are ready to use them.

These are raw packed tomatoes in their own juice, so stir them up before filling the jars leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace of room in each jar. Do not add water to your jars.

If you have spilled, wipe the rims of your jars clean before placing the hot lids on them as bits of food can interfere with the sealing process.  Process the jars according to Water bath instructions.

I placed the filled pint jars into my large, shallow church pot, brought the water level up to just below the screw on rings, and returned the water to a boil. I processed the jars by boiling them for thirty minutes.

Use a canning tongs to remove the jars from the hot water and place on a cooling mat.  Make sure that as they cool, the lids all seal.  You can do this by pressing the middle of the lid with a finger or thumb. If the lid does not spring back up when you release your finger, the lid is sealed.

 

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower “Rice”

Written By: Chris - Jul• 19•17

Grated cauliflower makes a fantastic low-carb, grain-free stand in for rice.  It is often considered one of the healthiest foods on earth as a member of the cruciferous vegetable (or Brassicaceae) family- along with broccoli, cabbage, kale, and brussel sprouts.

Recent studies suggest that cruciferous vegetables are an excellent source of natural antioxidants due to their high levels of various phytochemicals (any of various biologically active compounds found in plants), as well as good suppliers of essential vitamins, fiber, minerals, and phenolic compounds.  Brassica crops are now highly correlated with preventing chronic diseases including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, and various forms of cancers, to name a few.

Buying cauliflower already “riced” makes cooking very convenient and you can find it at most grocery stores.  I was thrilled to see Costco is carrying it now because it’s a real time saver!  It’s pretty versatile and you can season it any way you wish.  This night I brightened it up with cilantro and lime and served it with fish tacos.  It has a nice texture and is perfect as a side dish that you might normally serve with rice!

Ingredients: 

1/2 medium head (about 16 oz) Cauliflower, riced
1/2 medium Onion, diced
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, pressed
1 Jalapeno pepper, minced
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 to 2 Limes – zest and juiced, to taste
1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped

If not using pre-riced cauliflower, rinse and remove the core from cauliflower and allow it to dry completely.  Coarsely chop into florets, then place half of the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is small and has the texture of rice but don’t over process or it will get mushy.
Set aside and repeat with the remaining cauliflower.


Heat a large saute pan over medium heat, add oil, onions, and jalapenos.  Sauté about four to five minutes until the onions are until soft.

Raise the heat to medium-high and add the cauliflower “rice” to the onions in the saute pan.

Cover and cook approximately five minutes, stirring frequently, just gently cooking it through until the cauliflower is slightly crispy on the outside but tender on the inside.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Turn off the heat and toss in the with fresh cilantro and zest to taste.

Squeeze the fresh lime juice over the rice and serve.

We enjoyed this with fish tacos and a standout 2011 Napa Chardonnay by CROZE.  Wine maker Daniel Benten makes this is all about the purity of the fruit and it’s awesome!

Enjoy!
Cheers!
~Chris

Potato Salad with Mint and Lemon, by Al Roker

Written By: Chris - Jul• 13•17

I recently watched Al Roker of the TODAY show prepare this salad and decided to make it myself based on the feedback of the other hosts who were sampling it.  We don’t eat a lot of potatoes these days but love this lightened up version of potato salad because it satisfies your starchy cravings without a lot of added fat and excess calories.  I’ve also prepared this dish by replacing the potatoes with chopped, roasted butternut squash and it was delicious!

I have an abundance of mint growing in my herb garden and am always looking for ways to use it.  You may also consider using mint by chopping it scattering over a tossed green or grilled salad. The leaves will add trace amounts of nutrients as well as a bold flavor.  Fresh mint, including spearmint and peppermint, contains several key vitamins and minerals you need for good health, though they’re not present in huge amounts. For example, fresh mint contains trace amounts of iron, a mineral you need to make red blood cells. Mint also has small amounts of fiber, vitamin A and potassium.

Consider stirring chopped mint into marinades or meatballs, and you can always flavor water or iced tea by adding chopped mint leaves.

Ingredients:
3 pounds Baby Yukon Gold potatoes
1 Lemon, juice, and zest (about 2-4 tablespoons)
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt, to taste
Freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves, chopped
Flaky Sea Salt, for garnish

In a large saucepan, cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and cover them with cold water and season the water with salt (to taste like the sea). Bring to a boil over high heat and cook the potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain and let stand until cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Toss the chopped potatoes with the dressing and chopped mint leaves.

Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with flaky sea salt.

Enjoy!
Cheers!
~Chris

Zesty Lime Corn Chicken Salad

Written By: Chris - Apr• 12•17

I was inspired to create this salad after recently visiting the sky lounge of our frequent airline.  They often serve the same old same old options for lunch, but both  Bill and I were thrilled when we saw that the lounge had a few new options including a vegetable salad with a very forward taste of lime!  I happen to love this zesty tropical fruit that has a somewhat bitter, acidic taste – and also adds brightness and freshness to dishes.  Limes not only taste great, but they are good for you!  They are rich in vitamin C, can regulate sugar absorption in diabetics and can also help prevent heart diseases.  I read recently that lime peel and lime juices contain antioxidants that can slow down the process of atherogenesis, the buildup of plaque on artery walls; which is a good thing!

I decided to incorporate Jicama, a round, bulbous root vegetable (pronounced hee-cama) that is part of the legume family and grows on vines.

I love its light crunchy texture and was surprised to read that like potatoes, should be used sparingly due to the high carbohydrates content.  (They are a free – 0 point item on the Weight Watchers *SmartPoints™ program) Jicamas are also good for you with health benefits mainly derived from the unique mixture of vitamins, minerals, and other organic compounds, including dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, and a small amount of protein.  Chopped, cubed, grated or sliced into fine sticks, raw or cooked, it is versatile and great for stir-fries, salads, slaw, soup, and combined with other veggies and fruits like oranges, apples, carrots, and onions, as well as meats and seafood.  A favorite Mexican recipe is chilled jicama slices sprinkled with chili powder, salt, and lime juice; so I thought this would be a perfect combination!  This is a simple salad to toss together and it sure reminds me of summer – finally within reach!

Ingredients: 

2 Corn cobs, cut from cob
1 Cup Grap Tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters
1/2 Cup Red Bell Pepper, chopped 
1/2 Cup Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 Cup English Cucumbers, chopped 
1/2 Jalapeno Pepper, minced
1 Cup Jicama, grated
2/3 Cup Cilantro, chopped 
1 Whole Lime, plus zest (about 2 to 4 Tablespoons juice) 
1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lime infused if available
1 teaspoon Champagne Vinegar
1 teaspoon Skinny Girl Stevia liquid, or 1 Tablespoon Sugar to taste
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2 Cups Cooked Chicken Breast, boneless, skinless 

Start by blanching the corn.  Drop shucked whole ears of corn into salted, boiling water and let boil for about five minutes.  Then plunge the corn into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.  Once cool, use a sharp knife to remove corn from the cob.  Cut the other vegetables into small pieces, grate the Jicama and combine in a bowl.

Whisk together the lime juice, zest, vinegar, oil, sweetener, and salt and pepper.

Gently toss the lime vinegarette with the vegetables.

I use a rotisserie chicken that has already been cooked with skin and bones removed that I purchase from Costco.  Cut it into small bite-sized pieces and combine with the salad.  Stir in chopped Cilantro.

Enjoy immediately!
Cheers!
~Chris

 

Cauliflower “Fried” Rice

Written By: Chris - Apr• 10•17

Bill and I  have been trying to cut back on carbohydrate-containing foods.  I’m sure you’ve been seeing Cauliflower as a huge food trend lately?  Well, I’ve been using it to replace white rice, a controversial food.  On the one hand, some nutritionists call it an empty source of calories and recommend avoiding it while others consider it a “safe” starch and say it is ok to eat in moderation.

It can be confusing, but there are reasons why we try to avoid carbohydrates such as rice, which has no fiber.  Did you know that rice cannot be digested before it is thoroughly cooked?  When it is cooked it becomes sugar and spikes circulating blood sugar within half an hour; almost as quickly as it would if you ate a sugar candy.  It can fill you up long before your blood sugar spikes because the fiber bulks and fills up your stomach and since white rice doesn’t have fiber, you tend to eat more of the calorie dense food before you get filled up.  Besides all of that cauliflower is good for you.  Studies show strong nutrient richness in both raw and cooked cauliflower.  It is high in nutrients like vitamin C, is a good source of vitamin K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese.

This dish is really flavorful and while the texture is great, it tastes fantastic!  One wouldn’t even know you’ve skipped the rice!

Ingredients:

1 Head cauliflower, medium with stem removed (about 3 or 4 Cups)
1 Tablespoons Canola Oil
2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
1 Onion, medium chopped
2/3 Cup Carrots, chopped
2/3 Cup Celery, chopped
1/2 Cup of Peas, frozen
Other vegetables like red bell pepper, mushrooms, cabbage, etc. can be used! 

3 Garlic Cloves, pressed
2 Tablespoons dried Ginger
4 to 5 Tablespoons 5 Spice
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce, plus more for serving, optional
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 cup frozen mixed peas and carrots, thawed
3 Green Onions, thinly sliced
2 Eggs, scrambled (or Egg Beaters)
Cooked Ground Turkey, left over Pork Tenderloin or chicken, chopped, optional

I’ve recently prepared this twice.  The first time I used the food processor to “rice” the cauliflower.  More recently, I used the pre-packaged cauliflower that was already done for me that I found at Costco!

If you buy the whole head, start by cutting the cauliflower into chunks. Working in batches, pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until coarse in texture, like rice.

 

Otherwise, just open the package of riced cauliflower that you purchased!

 

Chop and prepare your veggies of choice.

 

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the canola oil and saute the onions, celery, and carrots until they start to become soft and translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for about a minute before adding the cauliflower.  Continue to stir fry until all of the vegetables are tender about 5 to 10 minutes.  If using peppers and/or peas, I tend to wait and add them last since they cook quickly.  As the vegetables are cooking, whisk the soy sauce and sesame oil together in a small bowl along with the spices befor stirring it into the cauliflower mixture.

 

You can either cook the eggs in a separate pan and later transfer them back into the stir fry, or create a well and cook them in the center and then stir them in.  If adding mushrooms, I recommend cooking them separately to thoroughly brown before mixing them in.

 

Stir in the green onions and cooked meat if desired and serve with hot sauce and additional soy sauce if desired.

I served this dish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a beautiful, crisp Chardonnay by Charles Krug.

Enjoy!
Cheers!
~Chris