Tag Archives: tomatoes

Down-Home Tomatoes with Okra

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HealthySlowCookerCooking with a slow cooker is so convenient, and it’s even better when you can make healthy meals in it! I recently received a review copy of The Healthy Slow Cooker, Second Edition, and found that it not only includes lots of healthy gluten-free recipes, but also has additional information about the health benefits of many of the ingredients. The book starts off with helpful tips on using your slow cooker, and then you’ll find recipes for Breakfast, Starters and Snacks, Soups, Poultry, Fish and Seafood, Beef and Veal, Pork and Lamb, Vegetarian Mains, Sides and Sauces, and Desserts.

Some of the recipes include Warm Black Bean Salsa, Gingery Carrot Soup with Orange and Parsley, French Basil Chicken, Texas-Style Chili con Carne, Mixed Vegetables in Spicy Peanut Sauce, Creamy Polenta with Corn and Chiles, and Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce. All recipes include information on Calories and Nutrients per serving, too.

I decided to try the Down-Home Tomatoes with Okra because I’ve never made an okra dish, and thought it was about time! I don’t eat okra that often, but learned from this book that it’s very good for you. Okra “…provides glutathione, an antioxidant that supports the immune system and assists your body with eliminating toxins (pg. 291)….”

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it out! I was a little surprised to see that it had bacon in it, but the book points out which type of bacon is healthiest to use (see recipe below). I used turkey bacon because I already had some on hand.

DOWN-HOME TOMATOES WITH OKRA from The Healthy Slow Cooker, Second Edition

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil (15 mL)
  • 4 ounces chunk bacon, diced (125 g) I used turkey bacon–the book recommends using bacon without additives and synthetic nitrates and made from pigs that have been pastured, which is higher in omega-3 fatty acids
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (2 mL)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns (2 mL)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added tomatoes including juice (796 mL)
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cups sliced (1/2 inch or 1 cm) okra, about 12 ounces (375 g)-I used a 12-ounce bag of sliced frozen okra, thawed

In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring, until nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, salt, and peppercorns and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.

Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours, until hot and bubbly. Add bell pepper and okra. Cover and cook on High for about 30 minutes, until okra is tender.

Nutrients Per Serving: Calories 101; Protein 4.4 g; Carbohydrates 12.2 g; Fat (Total) 4.5 g (Saturated Fat 1.1 g; Monounsaturated Fat 2.7 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g); Dietary Fiber 3.0 g; Sodium 339 mg; Cholesterol 6 mg. Excellent source of vitamins C and K; Good source of potassium; Source of Vitamins A and B-6, folate, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and zinc; Contains a moderate amount of dietary fiber.

Courtesy The Healthy Slow Cooker, Second Edition by Judith Finlayson © 2014 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.

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You may want to add some additional seasoning to taste before serving. Do you have a favorite way you like to prepare okra?

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Super Greens Fiesta Salad and a Greens Giveaway!

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When I buy salad greens, I like buying organic. Last week, I had the chance to try some complimentary greens from OrganicGirl. This company specializes in making a variety of salad OrganicGirlblends and greens that are all organic, triple washed, and packaged in 100% recycled plastic packaging, which I think is great! I tried out a package of their Super Greens (a blend of baby red chard, baby tat soi, baby spinach, baby green swiss chard, and baby arugula), and a package of their Baby Spinach. I really liked these OrganicGirl greens–they were very fresh and tender, and worked great in the recipes I used them in. And I’ll be sharing these recipes with you!

And more good news–OrganicGirl will provide 5 giveaways of the same two packages of greens I tried out–so 5 of you can win these two healthy, tasty organic greens to try out for yourself! Organic Girl will send the greens directly to you, or you can receive coupons to get them from your local health food store if you prefer. See the end of the post for details on how to win!

Today I’ll share the Fiesta Salad recipe I made with the Super Greens. The giveaway will end on Wednesday evening at 8 p.m. (CST), and on Wednesday or Thursday evening, when I announce the 5 winners, I’ll share a recipe I made with the Baby Spinach.

I really like the variety of ingredients this Super Greens Fiesta Salad has! I found a recipe at Taste of Home and modified it a little, taking out some ingredients and adding in some other ones. I also used larger amounts, so this will make a big bowl of salad that serves about 8 people. If you need to make the salad a little ahead of time, don’t toss the dressing in until right before serving.

SUPER GREENS FIESTA SALAD by NancyCreative, adapted from Taste of Home

Makes 8 servings

  • 1 (5-ounce) container OrganicGirl Super Greens mix (about 4 well-packed cups; or substitute your favorite lettuce greens)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 (2.25-ounce) can sliced olives
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2/3 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light Ranch salad dressing

In a large salad bowl, combine the salad greens, corn, black beans, tomatoes, green onions, sliced olives, and celery.

In a small bowl, combine the salsa, sour cream or plain yogurt, and ranch dressing; mix until well blended. Drizzle this salsa dressing over salad mixture and toss to coat. Makes about 8 servings.

Note: This dressing gives the salad a generous coating. If you or your family prefer a lighter amount of dressing, just use about 3/4 cup of the dressing mixture. Or, just toss all your salad ingredients together without the dressing and serve the dressing on the side.  You can also serve this salad with a vinaigrette if you prefer.

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OrganicGirlGIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED–winning comments were: #7, #10, #20, #24, and #33

Now for the Giveaway…if you’d like to enter to win two packages of organic greens–Super Greens and Baby Spinach–from OrganicGirl, leave a comment on this blog post between now and Wednesday evening, March 12, at 8 p.m. (CST)–the random drawings will be made from the comments on this post only (there will be 5 winners)! The winners will be chosen randomly via Random.org and announced on Wednesday or Thursday evening, March 12 or 13. Winners will be notified via email. Giveaway is limited to readers in the Continental U.S. and Canada.

NOTE: If you are a winner, your email will be given to OrganicGirl and they will contact you via email about getting your greens delivered to you. You have the option to have coupons for the product sent instead if you prefer. Winners who reside in Canada will only be able to receive the coupons.

First entry: Leave a comment on this post–it would be great to hear what your favorite greens are, or what your favorite salad is!

Bonus entry: If you are a new or existing follower or subscriber, you can leave one extra comment telling me the way (or ways) you are following.

I hope you all have the time to leave a comment or two for the chance to try out these OrganicGirl greens! And if you’re not sure where OrganicGirl products are available near you, there’s a store locator here to help you find one!

Fiesta Chili Mac

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One of the things I enjoy most about cooking and baking is taking a recipe and “making it my own.” And that’s exactly what I was asked to do with a few recipes from Ragù! It was fun creating this tradish_logo_300x300“New Tra-Dish” Fiesta Chili Mac using Ragù® Old World Style® Traditional Pasta Sauce. Each jar of this pasta sauce is made with 11 juicy tomatoes, making it Ragù’s richest, thickest recipe.

I decided to put my own spin on Ragù’s Family Favorite Chili Mac–which you’ll find it on their site, along with other great tasting, quick and easy recipes. I decided to do a Fiesta-flavored version of it, adding in some onion and green bell pepper to the ground beef when it was almost done cooking. Then I mixed some cheddar cheese in with the meat mixture, pasta sauce, and macaroni to make it nice and cheesy. And of course you need Fiesta toppings, so I used a little more cheese, sour cream, green onion, and tomato to top this dish. I also used chopped fresh cilantro as a garnish, which is optional. Chopped or sliced black olives would be another great topping, also optional.

This turned out to be a very yummy and filling dish! It’s very cheesy, with lots of rich tomato taste from the Ragù pasta sauce. I really liked the addition of the extra veggies and toppings, too. If you like these Fiesta flavors, then I’m sure you and your family will really enjoy this!

FIESTA CHILI MAC by NancyCreative, adapted from Ragù’s Family Favorite Chili Mac

Makes 6 to 8 servings in a 9″ deep dish microwave-safe pie plate (or you can use an 8×8″ or 9×9″ square microwave-safe baking dish)

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 jar (1 lb. 8 oz.) Ragù® Old World Style® Traditional Pasta Sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup sour cream, plus a dollop for the top
  • 2 green onion stems, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped tomato
  • Optional: 2 to 3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, 2 Tablespoons chopped or sliced black olives

Grease or spray a 9″ deep dish microwave-safe pie plate (or similar-sized microwave-safe baking dish, like a square 8×8″ or 9×9″ dish); set aside. Note: It helps if you have all your veggies chopped before you begin cooking! You can cook your macaroni beforehand too, or  cook it while your ground beef is cooking.

Cook ground beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until almost done. Add chopped onion and green bell pepper and cook a few minutes longer until they are slightly tender and ground beef is done.

Stir in pasta sauce and chili powder. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover skillet, and simmer 10 minutes.

Stir in cooked macaroni , blending ingredients well, then add in 1 cup of the shredded cheddar cheese, blending cheese evenly into the mixture.

Spoon this mixture into your greased 9″ deep dish pie plate (or similar-size baking dish), mounding up mixture toward the center (if you use an 8×8″ or 9×9″ baking dish, the mixture will be more level). Sprinkle another 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese evenly over the mixture (leave the other 1/2 cup cheese for the garnish). It will look like this in a pie plate–quite a hefty mound!

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Microwave on HIGH for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until the cheese on top is thoroughly melted.

Remove from microwave and top center area of pie with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, 1/3 cup sour cream, chopped green onion, chopped cilantro (optional), chopped tomato, and chopped or sliced olives (optional). Add an extra dollop of sour cream in the center, then serve. Note: You’ll want to add your toppings quickly so you can serve this dish while it’s nice and hot!

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When serving, if you’ve used a pie plate, you can cut “slices” as if you were cutting a pie, but as you can see, the “slices” probably won’t hold their shape on your plates–since it tastes so good though, I don’t think anyone will mind! 🙂 If you make this in a square baking dish, you can cut into squares and serve or just spoon out with a large serving spoon.

You can find more quick and easy recipe ideas from Ragù at Facebook.com/RaguSauce.

This post was sponsored by Ragù and Yummly, but the opinions expressed are mine.

Sharing this recipe at Foodie Friday and Meal Plan Monday.

Caprese Tart

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If you like Caprese Salad or Margherita Pizza, you’ll want to try this tart! It has sliced mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil in it–yum! This summer, I’ve been wanting to make some sort of a tomato tart and I came up with the idea of making a Caprese Tart! If tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella are so good in a salad or on pizza, they’d probably be good in a tart, too, I reasoned. And you never know until you try. I have some basil growing in a pot and also had some garden-fresh tomatoes (from Mark and Marijo–thank you!) , so I bought a block of mozzarella cheese and was all set to try this out!

I thought it turned out really yummy and it’s very easy to make–I used a pre-made refrigerated pie crust, but you can use your favorite homemade pie crust recipe if you prefer. I also used a little Parmesan cheese in this, to give it a little extra cheesy zing. If you’re looking for ways to use the tomatoes from your garden, you just may want to try this Caprese Tart out!

CAPRESE TART by NancyCreative

  • 1 ready-to-use refrigerated pie crust (1/2 of a 15-ounce package), or make your favorite homemade piecrust
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella chesse
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and thinly sliced (NOTE: to easily seed a tomato, just slice off the stem end and gently squeeze the tomato over a bowl–the seeds will come right out!)
  • 1/4 cup well-packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Parchment paper
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly coat parchment paper with cooking spray.

Toss the shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses together in a small bowl so they’re blended well. Unroll pie crust on parchment-lined baking sheet and top crust with half of the cheese blend  (1 cup), leaving a 1 1/2-inch border at the edge. Arrange tomato slices in a circular pattern over the cheese (you may need to overlap some of the slices a little). Sprinkle half of the chopped fresh basil over the tomatoes, then drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.

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Spread the rest of the cheese (another cup) over the tomatoes and basil, then sprinkle the remaining basil on top of the cheese and drizzle another Tablespoon of olive oil over that.

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Fold pie crust edges up and over the filling, pleating and pinching dough slightly as you go. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is lightly browned. It should come out looking like this…

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Remove from oven and let tart cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into wedges, then serve.

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I  love to make things with basil and tomatoes, especially in the summer! Do you have a favorite tomato and basil recipe?

Tomato Basil Avocado Soup

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This cool, summer soup sounded good to me because it didn’t involve any cooking, and it has been so hot these past couple of days! This is a “raw food” recipe. You may have heard about all the health benefits there are to eating raw. I’ve read a little about it, although I’m no expert on the subject.

I found this recipe over at Beach House Kitchen and modified it slightly. I loved the way it tasted! I actually liked it much more than I thought I would. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, though, since I love all the ingredients in this soup…tomatoes, red pepper, onion, garlic, basil, avocado…but I think my favorite ingredient is the sun-dried tomatoes. They really make this soup wonderful!

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This soup is so easy to make, too–all the ingredients are mixed in a blender, then you just pour it out and serve. It’s the perfect super-easy, super-healthy summer meal!

TOMATO BASIL AVOCADO SOUP adapted from Beach House Kitchen

Makes two cup-size servings (3/4 cup per serving; for two “large bowl” servings, double the recipe)

  • 4 medium size tomatoes, cut into fourths
  • 1/2 of a sweet red pepper (seeds removed), chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (use the ones that are packed in oil in a jar–I used julienne cut sun-dried tomatoes, so I didn’t need to chop mine)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 of a medium-size yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup well-packed basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 of an avocado, cut into chunks
  • dash of salt to taste (optional)
  • additional basil leaves, whole or chopped, for garnish

Put all ingredients in a blender and pulse until ingredients are well-blended and mixture is just slightly chunky (you may have to stop the blender once and help the mixture along with a spoon). Pour into soup cups or bowls, garnish with additional basil leaves, whole or chopped, and serve immediately.

NOTE: This soup doesn’t take long to blend, especially if you have a high-power blender–it just took mine a minute or two to blend all the ingredients. If you have a lower-power blender, it may take a little longer. 

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This is only the second cold soup I’ve ever made–I’ll have to try more of these out! Have you made any cold soups? Or have you tried out any raw food recipes lately?