Sun Dried Tomato Heaven

Image

 

Ok gourmet food lovers…I know these photos may not look enticing until I fully explain what they are.  Now I don’t know about you, but I am a sun dried tomato junkie!  The only downfall is the price.  Here in Michigan I pay anywhere from $6.99 to $14,99 for an 8.5 oz. jar….OUCH!  I use these beauties in my baked spaghetti, pasta salads, bruschetta and steak and feta salads, homemade hummus and countless other recipes.  The good news is, it’s harvest time in Michigan and Roma tomatoes are very affordable (I paid $1.29 per pound).  Sun dried tomatoes can easily be made in your oven and the best part is, the prep time is very low, the baking heats the house and you will have your amazing sun (or oven in our case) dried tomatoes all winter long, without the big price tag.

Here is how you do it:

15 lbs    Very healthy Roma tomatoes, cut in half, cored and seeded

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Spice Chicks Ciao Mama Italian Blend

Spice Chicks Vampire Slaying Garlic

 

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees while you prep the tomatoes

Line baking pans with parchment paper

Place tomatoes very closely together (without over lapping) onto parchment lined baking pans

Drizzle with EVOO

Sprinkle with kosher salt and place in the oven

Roast for approximately 1 1/2 hours, turn all tomatoes

Sprinkle with Vampire Slaying Garlic and Ciao Mama Italian blend and return to oven

Roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours more (tomatoes should look browned, and shriveled)

Remove from oven and let cool

Slice tomatoes into approximately 1/3 inch strips

Place desired serving sizes into zip seal sandwich bags

Place all small sandwich bags into a large freezer bag and freeze.

This way you can pull bags out of the freezer as you need them and protect the tomatoes from freezer burn.

The cost of this at the market going rate was approximately $30.00 versus $80.00

I love a good deal!  Especially when it comes to better food!

Ciao!

Lesa  

Advertisements

A delicious fall treat at the peak of apple season

I have been experimenting with our Apple of Her Eye Apple Pie Spice…. I just can’t seem to get enough of this blend. I made a batch of “Apple Pie Bread” to take to the Farmers Market for people to sample the spice blend actually in something. The response was overwhelming. I was asked to post the recipe by several people so here it is….

Apple Pie Bread

1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. Spice Chicks Apple of Her Eye Apple Pie Spice
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 baking powder
1 egg beaten
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup finely shredded apples (I use a green and a red mixed)
1/4 Cup cooking oil
1/2 Cup pecans

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 8x4x2 loaf pan, set aside; In a medium bowl combine the flour, spice, baking soda, baking powder and mix well, make a well in the center of the flour mixture.

2. In another medium bowl combine egg, sugar, shredded apples and oil. Add to the center of the flour mixture all at once, stir until moistened (batter should be lumpy), fold in nuts. Spoon batter into prepared baking pan.

3. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing.

Ta Da!

Enjoy!

Betsy

One Chicken – Three Family Dinners – Part Two

SONY DSC

As promised, this is part two of our series on making three family dinners from one chicken.  I know you were all glued to the screen of your computer waiting for this (a girl can dream…can’t she?).  Ok, enough of that and on with a great dinner!

Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients:

Leftover Spice Chicks Herbs of Provence Roasted Chicken

1 Bag Frozen Mixed Veggies

1 Can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 Large jar prepared chicken gravy (or 2 packets of chicken gravy mix, prepared)

1 Package of (2) pie crusts (or homemade, even better!)

1 1/2 tsp Spice Chicks Ciao Mama Italian Blend

1 tsp Spice Chicks Vampire Slaying Garlic

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Remove the obvious pieces of chicken from the bone of the roasted chicken.  Leave small pieces and the wings (if no one ate them) for the third meal.  Dice or tear meat into small pieces.  Hopefully you have 1 to 1 1/2 cups leftover.  Add to a large mixing bowl.  Add frozen veggie mix, gravy, mushroom soup, and Spice Chicks spices.  Mix well.

Place one pie shell in the bottom of a pie pan, allowing the shell to take the shape of the pan.  Pour in the chicken mixture and cover with the remaining pie shell.  Run your fingers under the faucet and skim them between the two pie shells all the way around the pie pan, then gently press the two crusts together.  This will help to create a seal between them.  Fold the pie dough under (don’t cut the excess off, the crust edges will burn if you do) and thumb and finger press the edges forming a wave pattern around the pie plate.  Cut small slits into the top of the pie to allow breathing room.

Place the pie onto a foil lined cookie sheet and place into the preheated oven.  Bake at 425 for approximately 15 minutes to allow the crust to bake into position, then lower the oven temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 30 to 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling out of the slits on top.  Allow to rest out the oven for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.  This will feed a family of 3 or 4 twice with a side dish such as a salad.

 

Now I had the great fortune of having a dear friend of mine give me some home grown pears to accompany our meal tonight.  I decided to roast them along side of the pot pie.  All I can say is….”Have mercy!” 

Roasted Pears

Ingredients:

4 cups Coarsely diced fresh pears

1/2 Cup Sugar

1 tsp Spice Chicks Apple of Her Eye Pie Spice

1 tsp Spice Chicks Sun Kissed Sweetie Orange Peel

2 tsp Butter

Preparation:

Peel and remove the core of the pears and cut into chunky pieces.  In a small bowl, combine sugar and Spice Chicks spices.  Blend well.  Add pears and sugar mix to a small baking dish and blend with your hands.  Add the butter in small pats on the top.  Place in the oven with the pot pie once you have lowered the temperature.  Stir the pear mixture after 15 minutes of roasting and place back into the oven.  Serve warm.

Place the chicken carcass in a freezer bag and freeze.  The next step of this process will require 2 to 3 carcasses.

I hope you enjoy this as much as Devon and I did!

Lesa

One Chicken – Three Family Dinners – Part One

IMG_0044

Living in Michigan has been tough for the past few years with manufacturing jobs disappearing and the automotive companies taking a hard hit.  People have asked us at farmer’s markets about recipes that can accommodate a small budget and a large family.  Being I have felt this pain myself, I thought I would start sharing some of the ways that I have cooked delicious and wholesome meals, while going through hard times.  One of my favorites is as follows:

Sunday Roasted Chicken 

Ingredients:

1 Large Roasting Chicken

1 Bulb of garlic (cut in half horizontally to expose the cloves)

1 Lemon cut into quarters

1 Bunch of Rosemary (fresh)

1 Yellow Onion – Sliced

1/2 Stick of butter – melted

2 TBSP Spice Chicks Herbs of Provence

1 Small bag of baby carrots

2 to 3 pound of quartered redskin potatoes – quartered

1 Spanish (purple) onion diced

2 TBSP Honey mustard

2 TBSP Dijon mustard

1/3 Cup Olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Remove the giblets from the cavity of the chicken and rinse both inside the cavity and the entire bird.  In a large roasting pan, create a “bed” of onions and place the prepared bird on top.  Fill the cavity with the lemon, garlic and fresh rosemary.  Tie the legs together with kitchen string and then drizzle the chicken with the melted butter and sprinkle the Spice Chicks Herbs of Provence onto the chicken after rubbing them between your palms to release the oils in the herbs.  Add salt if desired and place in the oven.

While the chicken begins to roast, quarter the washed redskin potatoes, and dice the Spanish onion.  Add to a large mixing bowl and toss in the bag of baby carrots.  Add the honey mustard, Dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Incorporate and then add to the roasting chicken around the outside edge, creating a circle around the bird.

Total roasting time should be approximately 2 to 2/12 hours depending on the size of the chicken.  To check for doneness, slice into the dark meat of the thigh and ensure that the juices run clear.

Let rest out of the oven, covered in foil for 10 to 15 minutes.

Slice and serve warm. 

Part Two of this series to follow tomorrow

– Lesa

 

Sand

While I was visiting a friend of mine for the holiday weekend and there were quite a few people there visiting and celebrating. I had made breakfast for the whole crew one morning and had made biscuits to go along with breakfast and realized that there was no honey, jam or anything to put on them. So my Spice Chick mind had to get creative. I had made the Caramel Apple Pies the day before and had some sugar and spices there so I decided that if cinnamon sugar is good then our Apple Pie of Her Eye Pie Spice and sugar would be much better. So I blended some up and asked the focus test group of the cutest blonde 2 & 4 year olds I have seen in a long time what they thought. The 2 year old girl didn’t say much but just picked up her biscuit and licked the top off and asked for more. The 4 year old boy pretty much did the same thing except when he was done licking it off he asked me if he could have more “Sand”. We all had a good chuckle out of that one. But he just couldn’t get enough. He asked for a biscuit for his bedtime snack, and I asked him if he wanted “Sand” on it, of course he said “yes”. When he got up the next morning he asked for it again. When it was time for him to go home he would not stop crying because he wanted another biscuit with Sand on it before he left….. so it was only right to make him one to go and give his mom the leftover Sand for him to take home and enjoy…It was just far too cute not to share this.

Sand:
1 Cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Apple of Her Eye Pie Spice

Mix well and sprinkle on anything you like. We used biscuits, toast, English muffins, pancakes, French toast, waffles, apples, oatmeal, plain yogurt…. lot’s of things…. be creative and let us know what you like to put Sand on!

Ta Da!

Enjoy as much as we did!
Betsy

Labor Day Shindig Caramel Apple Pie

Caramel Apple PieI was invited to a party for the holiday weekend and of course I can’t go anywhere empty handed (Thanks Mom! She taught me well :D.) I decided with all the fresh produce and the Michigan apples coming into season that the best way to celebrate a grand old American Holiday was with Apple Pie that has just a little extra somethin, somethin…. I had made some caramel and forgot it at home on my way out the door, so I had to improvise. Not to worry, the alternative is quite delicious as well!

Ingredients:
The Crust:
1 1/4 Cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 Cup Shortening
4-5 Tablespoons cold water

The Crumb Topping:
1 Cup packed Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup all purpose flour
1/2 Cup quck rolled oats
1/2 Cup butter or margarine

The Filling:
1/2 Cup white sugar
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of Spice Chicks Apple of Her Eye Pie Spice.
1/8 teaspoon of salt
6 Cups thinly sliced peeled cooking apples (I used half Red Delicious and Half Granny Smith)

The Topping:
1/2 Cup chopped pecans
1/4 Cup caramel ice cream topping (if you don’t make your own caramel)

Instructions for the pastry:
In a bowl stir together 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until pieces are pea-size. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of water over part of the flour mixture, tossing with a fork until all dough is moistened. Prepare using 1 Tablespoon of water at a time, until flour mixture is moistened. Form dough into a ball and set aside.

For the Crumb Topping:
In a bowl stir together brown sugar, 1/2 Cup all purpose flour and oats. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter or margarine until the topping mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

For the Pie Crust:
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 12 inch circle. Transfer pastry to a deep dish 9 inch pie plate being careful not to stretch pastry. Trim and crimp edges as desired.

For the Filling:
In a large mixing bowl stir together sugar, 3 Tablespoons of flour, Spice Chicks Apple of Her Eye Pie Spice and salt. Add apple slices and gently toss until coated. transfer apple mixture to the pastry lined pie plate. Sprinkle crumb topping over the apple mixture.

Baking:
To prevent over browning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 25-30 minutes more or until top is golden. Remove from oven; sprinkle pie with pecans, then drizzle with caramel topping. Cool on a wire rack.

Ta Da!

Enjoy!

Betsy

Late Summer Harvest

Stuffed Zuchinni with roasted cabbageOne thing I love about late summer is the harvest of the summer growing season. I love, love, love fresh vegetables! I was the lucky recipient of the most beautiful zuchinni from my friends garden this summer. Most people do not like the huge ones that resemble a caveman’s club or look like they were grown next to a nuclear plant, but those ones happen to be my personal favorites. I was having company for the weekend and wanted to make something special. I thought my stuffed Zuchinni would be a perfect combination of fresh and healthy vs. a traditional comfort food. Along with it I decided to try something new which was Roasted Cabbage topped with Turkey Bacon. I have to say that not ALL my experiments turn out as good as they sound in my head. My attempt at a new twist on a favorite vegetable was not what I had hoped for, however the tried and true main dish was delish! My company arrived and we enjoyed good conversation and enjoyed the bounty of this part of the summer harvest. We agreed that the cabbage was not a good candidate for this type of roasting but the stuffed zuchinni was definitely a success.

Stuffed Zuchinni

Ingredients:
1.25 package of Italian Seasoned Ground Turkey
1 Egg
1 medium finely chopped onion
1 1/2 stalks of finely chopped celery
1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons of Spice Chicks Ciao Mama Italian Blend
1 teaspoon of Spice Chicks Gossip Queen Garlic Powder
2 Tablespoons of fresh minced garlic
1 Cup of grated parmesean cheese
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 Cup of shredded Italian Blend Cheese (Mozzerella, asiago, parmesean…)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix ground turkey, egg, onion, celery, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Gossip Queen Garlic Powder, Ciao Mama Italian Blend (Be sure to rub the herbs in between your hands as if you are trying to start a fire with a stick, it freshly releases the essential oils of the herbs.) Add in the parmesean cheese and mix well. Make sure all the stuffing is well blended. Cut the zuchinni in half the long way and scoop out the seeds. Stuff the zuchinni with the turkey mixture and place in a baking dish. Top it with your spaghetti sauce and sprinkle the shredded cheese on top. Bake in the oven for about an hour (please note that baking time will vary with the size and thickness of the zuchinni). When the zuchinnis is fork tender the dish is done.

Ta Da!

Enjoy!

Betsy