Southwestern Crepes

I have to admit something... I really really didn't want to post this recipe.  Why you ask?  Because I kind of wanted to keep it a secret till I can open my little dream crepe stand and serve this as my signature dish.  Yes, signature dish... It is absolutely that good and probably better.  Well, at least maybe this could rally financial support for my crepe stand (anyone? anyone?)  and until then, I will continue to share my recipes. I have to tell you this is heavily adapted from another recipe that came with my Berndes crepe pan, but my addition of cheddar cheese took it to a whole new level in my opinion.

Sidenote:  A few of you have asked me specifics on the pan I bought.  I actually bought the Berndes crepe set, which comes with a pan, ladle, flat spatula and crepe batter.  I would definitely recommend getting the set because I find all the tools invaluable.  Another sidenote: No, I am not endorsed by Berndes, but I probably should be for all this free advertising!

Again I digress... So back to the best crepe possibly ever.  The crepe batter has cornmeal as well as chili powder in it to give it an extra kick.  The marinated chicken is a dream to cook as well because I cooked  it right in the crepe pan right before I made the crepe.  Another perk when cooking in a little kitchen (or big kitchen I suppose... I would prefer the least dishes possible even if I was cooking in a kitchen with more than two counters).  
There is a little preparation to this, but you can do it all ahead of time and just throw the crepes together when you are ready to serve.  When my friend Kate and I dove into these, we couldn't believe how good they were.  Hope you agree! Come on, try one... I promise it's worth buying a pan!
Southwestern Crepes
Serves 4
Recipe Note: You must marinate the chicken and onion tomato mixture for at least 30 minutes so make sure you allow time for that.  You are also suppose to let the crepe batter sit for an hour after you make it.  This is customary with all crepe batters in order to let all of the bubbles out for even cooking.  I will say I have been in a hurry a few times and your crepes will turn out just fine if you don't let it sit this long.  The batter will just have air bubbles when you cook it.  Adapted from Berndes Cookware.
Corn Crepe Batter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow corn meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon chili powder
3 large eggs
3/4 cup beer (I used a Mexican beer called Modelo)
Crepe Filling
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon chili powder
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup beer (Modelo)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 medium sized vine ripened tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks
   (to seed a tomato, simply slice in half and dig the seeds out with a spoon)
1/2 medium sized white onion, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
Serve With
Sliced avocado
Sour Cream
Step by Step
For Crepe Filling
1. Combine chili powder, cilantro, salt, pepper, beer and olive oil in a bowl.
2.  Pour half of this mixture into a second bowl and add chicken breasts to marinate.
3.  Add the tomatoes and onions to the other half of the marinade and allow both mixtures to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.
4.  Remove chicken from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.  Heat crepe pan over medium heat and cook chicken breast until cooked through.
5.  Slice chicken into 1/2 inch strips and and set aside.
For the Crepes
1.  Combine flour, corn meal, salt and chili powder in a blender.
2.  Add the eggs one at a time and then the beer slowly until a thin batter is formed.
3.  Refrigerate batter for one hour.
4.  Heat crepe pan over medium heat.  Lightly coat with cooking spray or olive oil.
5.  Measure out a 1/2 cup of batter.  (For thinner crepes, only use a 1/4 cup)
6.  Holding the handle of the pan with one hand, pour batter into center of pan and turn in a circle until entire pan is covered in a thin layer of batter.
7.  Cook until lightly brown on one side.
8.  Flip the crepe with a spatula and allow the other side to brown as well.  Continue to cook on each side until slightly crispy.
9.  When crepe is almost finished, sprinkle with a 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Place chicken strips down the center of the crepe.   Top with tomato and onion mixture.
10.  Remove from pan and fold into the shape of a pizza slice.
11.  Serve with sliced avocado and a dab of sour cream.


Weekend Update: Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter...Week 7

And so I continue my Topsy Turvy report.  I have to admit it's getting hard for me to keep up the enthusiasm about this darn thing.  There is no real new news.  The leaves continue to grow and I continue to get yellow flowers, but that is as far as it goes.  The yellow flowers soon wilt.  To add on to my discouragement, anyone who has had success growing anything in Houston has assured me it is too hot for the survival of tomatoes.  Guess these suckers just can't take the heat in our 104 degree afternoons.  I will continue on for another week or two just to give it a good try.  And no matter what happens, I will retry the topsy turvy next year before the melting summer begins.  So stay tuned for a few more weeks!!

More promising blooms...
...and more dead ones!


Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas

One of my cooking goals is to have a long list of quick and easy weeknight meals that are delicious.  These quesadillas are adapted from Real Simple, which does a great job at producing quick and tasty recipes.  If you caught yesterday's post, you saw the steak fajitas I made to go with my roasted corn and avocado topping.  To make tonight's meal even faster, I grilled a chicken breast after I finished up my steak for the fajitas last night.  The less times we have to clean that darn griddler the better!  However, I have to say the griddler is one of my favorite kitchen appliances and no little kitchen should be without one!  
Okay, back to the dillas.  I was able to pull my freshly seasoned and grilled chicken breast out of the refrigerator and slice it up in minutes.  Another option if you don't feel like grilling is a precooked rotisserie chicken, shredded.  Feel free to throw in different cheeses and vegetables depending on what you have on hand.  You really can't mess these up!
Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas
Adapted from Real Simple
Serves 2
Recipe Notes
If you are going to grill your chicken, heavily season it with a standard season salt or salt and pepper.  You can grill a piece of chicken for this meal up to 3 days before and refrigerate until ready to use.  So if you are doing some grilling earlier in the week, still a boneless, skinless chicken breast on there to have on hand when you are ready to make this.
4 tortillas
1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken or 1 cup thinly sliced grilled chicken
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese (more if you like things really cheesy)
1 cup fresh baby spinach
Cooking spray or butter
to serve
sour cream
Step by Step
1. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
2.  Cover with cooking spray and add tortilla.
3.  Layer half of the spinach, cheese and chicken on the tortilla.  Allow cheese to slightly melt and once the tortilla has started to brown on the bottom, add tortilla on top of chicken, cheese and spinach. 
Optional: Add a pinch of salt over chicken, cheese and spinach. 
4.  Press down with spatula to allow ingredients to melt together.
5.  Flip over so that the other tortilla can brown.
6.  Once both sides are slightly crispy and cheese is melted, remove from heat and repeat steps for other quesadilla.
7.  Cut in quarter and serve with sour cream, salsa and avocado.


Lots and lots of cooking...

I just walked in the door and I can barely feel my feet.  I have to say the Little Kitchen and I both did overtime today.  However, I have nothing to show for it... Pictures that is.  I just finished a dinner party for 9 people and I have to say I am a little exhausted.  I had a great time doing it of course!  My plan was to take pictures as I went, but that was the last thing on my mind as I tried to get all 4 courses out in a reasonable amount of time.  So yes, I did cook today (alot) even though I have nothing to show for it, but I will share each recipe in the weeks to come.   The salad was probably my favorite and I did a "make your own" crepe bar again for dessert, which was fun.  So I will be back tomorrow with my normally scheduled recipes.


Roasted Corn and Avocado Dip

If you would like to be a popular guest for any summer soiree, bring this dip along.  I promise you will be a hit.  The combination of sweet roasted corn, creamy avocado, plump tomatoes and fresh cilantro is undeniably wonderful. With just a few other ingredients, you will have a dip that is sure to please.  I had this once in someone else's home and knew it had to be in my cookbook.  I used the same main ingredients and added a few of my own.
You can also see below how I used this dip to spice up steak fajitas.  Of course it pairs well with mexican food, but is tasty with most any summertime meal or barbecue.  Enjoy!
Roasted Corn and Avocado Dip
serves 2-4
Recipe Notes
You can use either fresh corn cut off the cob or frozen corn.  Whatever you have on hand works great, but I will say you can hardly beat fresh, sweet summer corn cut off the cob.
1 cup corn cut off the cob (or 1 cup frozen kernels)
2 teaspoons canola oil (or olive oil)
1 avocado, cut into small chunks
1 large vine ripened tomato, cut into small chunks (or two small tomatoes)
3 tablespoons fresh red onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fresh jalapeno, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 pinch of salt and pepper, extra to taste
Step by Step
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Spread corn kernels onto baking sheet;  toss with oil and sprinkle with salt.
3.  Roast corn for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned.
4. In a medium bowl, combine all remaining ingredients.  Mix gently to combine.
5.  When corn has cooled, add to dip.
6.  Serve with favorite tortilla chips or as a topping to fajitas.
Works great as a fajita topping as well!


Perfect Party Pizza

Serendipity... That's what I like to call the fact that in the same week, I received sockeye smoked salmon from Alaska as a souvenir from my parents, as well as a great new recipe from my friend Frances.  She told me how this is a recipe she has made for years and it's perfect as an appetizer or to take to any party. Of course I had to make it immediately and I can also say it's great for a quick dinner.  Whether you use an individual sized Boboli pizza or a large one for a crowd, you can easily adapt this recipe to however many people you are feeding.
Smoked Salmon Party Pizza
Recipe Notes
There are not really amounts below because you just eyeball the ingredients based on the size of your crust.  Boboli crust is a pizza crust that is sold at most grocery stores.  Make sure you let the Boboli crust cool completely before spreading the cream cheese on top.  A large knife is much easier to cut through the pizza then a pizza wheel.
Boboli Pizza Crust (small or large)
Cream Cheese, plain
Smoked Salmon, cut into bite size pieces
Red onion, sliced thinly
Capers, drained
1 or 2 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
Step by Step
1.  Prepare crust according to package; let cool completely.
2.  Spread cream cheese in a thin layer to cover entire crust.
3.  Layer red onion on crust; followed by smoked salmon.
4.  Sprinkle capers and dill on top.
5.  Cut into pie slices or strips before serving.


Weekend Update: Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter...Week 6

Here we are in Week 6 of the Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter experiment.  And if you caught last week's post , this little tike had taken a turn for the worst.  However, (drumroll.........) there is still hope! We now have a whole new set of little flower bulbs providing a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.  I will not be proud this time or talk about my "abundant crop on its way" until I have taken a big juicy bite out of my first harvest (novel thought, I know). 
So on to the changes I have observed... The back part of the plant that really doesn't see sunlight, has shriveled up completely.  The front leaves seem to be growing towards the sun and just yesterday, the leaves fell.  I am hoping that the weight of all those baby tomatoes is what caused this. I will have to say the ups and downs of this experiment are downright exhausting, but I will continue!  So stay tuned! Oh, and just when you thought the ambiance couldn't get any worse, it did.  
Our new neighbors have decided to leave their garages open so the new background of this experiment will be the inside of lovely sheds.  
Hope for a future...


Healthy Banana Walnut Muffins

I love a good challenge.  So when my friend Denni asked me to find healthy dessert recipes with no refined sugar, I was thrilled.  I am now officially beginning this challenge by posting these banana walnut muffins.  Gwyneth Paltrow has a great site called GOOP, and these muffins were one of her first recipes to post (however, they are no longer on the website for some strange reason... good thing I wrote it down).  Since things like brown rice syrup and barley flour are not usually found in my kitchen, I changed up the recipe to what I thought would yield similar results without having to search the ends of the earth for extra ingredients.  I hardly miss the sugar at all!
Warning:  These are not miracle muffins!  Sure my mom's banana nut muffins are more delicious and just melt in your mouth.  However, for the healthiness of these, I say they are pretty darn good.  I enjoy making a batch and having them for breakfast.  For today's muffins, I decided to skip sifting all the flours together... sometimes, you just don't have the time!  And I really did not notice a difference.  So here I start my challenge of finding healthier recipes... stay tuned for more!
Banana Walnut Muffins
Makes 1 dozen muffins

Recipe Notes
I know some people like to take the raisins out of a recipe, but I would not do it here! I think they are essential to adding moisture and sweetness.  The recipe calls for 3 ripe bananas.  I sometimes use four and I like them to be almost black for the most flavor. This recipe also calls to puree bananas in a food processor.  This is the best way, but I have hand mashed the bananas and added the liquid ingredients when I didn't have a food processor.  To save time, I do not sift the flours in this recipe.  Instead, I sifted and fluffed them together with a large fork.
3 ripe bananas (4 if they are small)
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts
2 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons canola or sunflower oil
1/2 cup white spelt flour (or all purpose white flour)
Step by Step
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roast walnuts on a baking sheet for about 7 minutes; Coarsely chop.
2.  Combine flours, baking soda and salt in a medium size bowl.  Using a large fork or slotted spoon, gently sift ingredients together to combing and get out any lumps.  (see first picture below)
3.  Puree bananas in a food processor and add remaining liquid ingredients; Mix well.
4.  Make a well in the flour and pour in the wet mixture. (make sure to scrape bowl well)
5.  Fold together unitls flour is moistened.  Do not overmix or the muffins will be tough!
6.  Add walnuts and raisins and fold just a few times to combine. 
7.  Line muffin tins or spray with cooking spray.
8.  Use an ice cream scoop (or large spoon) to evenly distribute batter among cups.
9.  Bake approximately 25 minutes.  Test with a toothpick until it slides out clean with no crumbs on it.
10.  Cool in pan for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack and continue to cool.


Swiss Chard and Sweet Pea Manicotti

I was recently in Austin and had the pleasure of going to one of the local farmer's markets with my friends Lindsey and Allison.  I find it very exciting to pick up a fresh ingredient and try it in a new dish.  We had just been thumbing through Giada de Laurentis's newest cookbook, "Giada's Kitchen," and thought this Swiss Chard & Sweet Pea Manicotti looked wonderful.  However, I knew nothing about swiss chard.  Well, it must have been serendipity when we happened upon just that at the farmer's market... fresh rainbow swiss chard.  I had never seen a green so colorful and we decided it was just what we should pick up to try this recipe.  When we returned home, we noticed the recipe called for white or red swiss chard, but I have to say the recipe was amazing with our rainbow colored variety!  
I have always been pleased with Giada's recipes so we thought this had to be good.  However, if you are going to make it, I will tell you right now it is not on the cheap or quick list.  With all of the cheeses, this dish can be a little pricey (if you are on the thrifty side).  However, after having it, I can definitely say it would be worth making for company!  Check the recipe notes for a couple adjustments we made to make this dish a little more reasonable.  Bottom Line:  Very delicious dish, but be willing to spend some time and a few extra bucks!
Thanks for the fun afternoon gals! And thank you to Richard, the grower of this swiss chard, for taking our picture... we owe you one!
Swiss Chard & Sweet Pea Manicotti
Recipe Adapted from "Giada's Kitchen" by Giada de Laurentis
12 Manicotti, 4 to 6 servings
Recipe Notes:  The cheeses in this dish can make it kind of expensive.  We substituted a cheese called “fontal” for the fontina.  It was a similar cheese that was a little less rich, but was half the cost.  While we never tried it with the fontina, the dish seemed very flavorful and not lacking at all.   This recipe calls for a pastry bag.  If you do not have one or don't want to mess with it, you can fill a plastic bag and cut off the tip like we did below.  Make sure you cut a very small hole so that it easily fits in the pasta shell.
Butter, for greasing the pan
12 manicotti or cannelloni pasta shells
1 bunch (12 oz) red, white or rainbow swiss chard… about 10 large leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (white will work too)
1 garlic clove
1 15 oz container whole-milk ricotta cheese
¾ cup frozen petite peas, thawed
1 cup (4 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
¾ cup (2 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh basil
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Fontina Fonduta Sauce
¾ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
3 cups (6 oz) grated fontina cheese (or fonduta for a cheaper version)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 ½ cups (6 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
Step by Step
Dish prep
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees; heavily grease a 13x9 inch glass baking dish with butter.
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil; heavily salt.
  3. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.
For the Filling
  1. Using kitchen scissors, a knife or gently tearing, remover the swiss chard stems.  You want to only have the tender leaves.  Chop the leaves into one inch pieces and discard of the stems. 
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer, then add the swiss chard leaves and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 2 minutes.  Allow the mixture to cool slightly.
  4. Place the ricotta cheese, peas, mozarella, Parmesan cheese, basil, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the cooled chard mixture and blend until smooth.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared pastry bag and stuff each manicotti shell with the filling.  If using a ziploc bag, fill bag with chard filling.  Then cut a very small hole in one corner and fill shells.  Place the stuffed manicotti in the prepared baking dish.
  1. In a medium- heavy saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a simmer over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to low.  Add the fontina cheese and cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese and basil.
  2. Pour the sauce over the stuffed manicotti and sprinkle with the 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden.  Let the baked manicotti stand for 5 minutes before serving.
This dish is great for leftovers as well!


How To: Freeze Basil Pesto

A common complaint from those who are only cooking for one or two at a time is that it is cheaper to eat out once you by all of the fresh ingredients.  This does not have to be the case if you know just a few tricks.  Fresh basil pesto is a favorite of mine and with this trick, you can have it on hand pretty much all the time.  The pesto can be taken out of the freezer and thaws within about 10 or 15 minutes so it is always ready.  For extra convenience, I scoop one tablespoon portions into an ice cube tray to serve.  That way, you can only take out exactly what you need at a time.  You could also scoop tablespoon size portions onto wax paper and freeze them that way as well if you do not have an ice cube tray. 
Step by Step
1.  Using a tablespoon, scoop leftover pesto into ice cube trays.  
2.  Cover and freeze overnight.
3.  Either leave in ice cube trays, or pop out pesto cubes and place in freezer bag; return to freezer.
4.  When ready to use, let exact amount of pesto thaw on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes.
No Ice Cube Tray Option:
1.  Cover a baking sheet with wax paper (or parchment paper)
2.  Using a tablespoon, scoop leftover pesto onto wax paper being careful not to let each one touch.
3.  Freeze overnight.
4.  Remove pesto discs and add to a freezer bag; return to freezer.
5.  Thaw same as above.


Fresh Basil Pesto

I cannot say enough wonderful things about fresh basil pesto.  The possibilities are endless!  Stir it in pasta, spread it on a sandwich, use it as a dipping sauce or spoon it over chicken.  Basil is actually one of the few things i grow (and trust me, if I can, you can too).  Just a small pot and when it's in full bloom, I make a big batch of pesto.  Sure there is store bought pesto, but the strong and fresh flavor of making it at home is worth the effort!  Check back later this week for a tip on how to freeze the pesto so you will always have it on hand!
Fresh Basil Pesto
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon
Freshly ground black pepper
Step by Step
1. Combine basil, pine nuts, cheese, garlic and salt in a food processor.  Grind for a few seconds until mixed. 
2.  While the motor is still running, slowly pour oil in and blend until the mixture is incorporated.
3.  Add pepper to taste and extra salt if needed.
4.  Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days tightly covered or freeze for up to a month.


Weekend Update: Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter...Week 5

Failure, disappointment, shame, with a sliver of hope sprinkled on top...the emotions I am feeling as I post this update.  How could I come so far since my last joyous Saturday post you ask?  Remember those yellow flowers I boasted about last week, and how I was sure I was on the brink of a tomato explosion? Gone, gone... gone.  When I sauntered out one morning to water my precious little plant, I could tell from afar that the bright yellow flowers that once were did not look so hot.  As I got closer, I could see they were a tad shriveled up.  Before I really thought through what i should do, I decided to poke one.  It took my breath away as I watched the entire shriveled up bulb float to the concrete. 
After looking around to see if anyone in the neighborhood witnessed my murder, I decided to douse the sweet plant in water in hopes of the other two springing back to life.  Well, this was on Thursday and I have seen no springage thus far.  I will say that the sliver of hope I reported comes from the fact that it appears I have some other flowers on the way.  However, (knock on wood) I will not be reporting too much on these until there is actually some fruit.  I feel as if I jinxed the last ones.  So keep this little tike in your thoughts and prayers and maybe it will pull through.  If you have a green thumb, then I beg you to share your tips and tricks with a comment.  Thank you.  Until next week...
R.I.P. little bulb...


Corn, Tomato & Avocado Salad

This is such a lovely summer salad.  The sweet fresh corn goes perfectly with the creamy avocado and chunks of fresh tomato.  You can put this together in seconds and goes great with pretty much anything.  You could serve it with grilled meat, a sandwich or Mexican food.  I found this lovely recipe years ago from Food Everyday and love bringing it out in the summer when all these ingredients are at their prime.  Enjoy!

Corn, Avocado & Tomato Salad
Serves 2

Recipe Notes
I try to use just a little romaine lettuce because the other ingredients are what make it so delicious.  And like I do with a lot of recipes, I have paired it down for two, but you can easily double it if you are feeding more.  
1 cup (approximate) romaine lettuce, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 cup fresh con kernels
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (a vine ripened tomato cut into chunks will work as well)
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed (or two small)
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon of chili powder
Coarse salt & ground pepper
Step by Step
1.  Combine torn lettuce, corn kernels, tomatoes
2.  Separate out 1/4 cup of the avocado cubes.
3.  Take the 1/4 cup of avocado and combine with 1/3 cup water, 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice and 1/4 teaspoon chili powder.  Season dressing to taste with coarse salt and pepper.
4.  Add the rest of the avocado cubes to the lettuce, corn and tomato.  Toss salad with dressing and serve.


Classic Italian Bruschetta

This is by far one of my favorite summertime dishes (and a favorite of Mr. Hungry's as well).  I learned to make this bruschetta in Florence, Italy a couple summers ago.  The recipe is very simple, but there are a couple of secrets to bruschetta to make it taste like what you would be served if you were in a true Tuscan restaurant.  I think it is the perfect appetizer for any Italian meal.  Buon Appetito!
Classic Italian Bruschetta
serves 4-6
Recipe Notes
As with most recipes with fresh tomatoes, this bruschetta is best in the summer time when tomatoes are at their prime (another reason I want that darn topsy turvy to start producing). Good olive oil is also preferred for best flavor, but I most often use Bertolli olive oil.  I would also suggest making this ahead of time and letting the tomato mixture sit for awhile so all of the flavors blend well.  DO NOT add to toasts until ready to serve so that the toasts do not become soggy.  If you will be serving this over a long period of time, you could also serve the tomato topping in a bowl and let guest spoon over bread right when they eat it so bread is not soggy.
1 french baguette, sliced into 1 inch thick slices
6 vine ripened tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil + more for brushing on toast slices
4 cup torn basil leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons minced white onion
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Step by Step
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.  Blanch tomatoes and peel off skin (click here for a how-to on blanching tomatoes)
3.  Scoop out all seeds and juice from the tomatoes with a spoon.
4.  Roughly chop tomatoes and put in a medium sized bowl.
5.  Add torn basil leaves, onion, olive oil, salt and pepper.
6.  Stir and cover, set aside.
7.  Brush slices of baguette with olive oil. 
8.  Toast in oven about 10 minutes, till edges are golden brown.
9.  Slice garlic clove in half and rub the raw garlic on each slice of the baguette.  
10.  Right before serving, spoon tomato mixture on each toast and serve.  


How To: Blanch Tomatoes

"Blanching" was one of those terms that always seemed foreign to me and would deter me from making a recipe.  I never really knew what it meant and recipes just simply said "blanch" thinking that this was something you were born knowing.  Well, not me so here is the step by step of how to blanch.    If you have ever been detered by blanching, I hope you will not be anymore because it is very easy!  The point of blanching tomatoes, is to be able to remove the skins easily, not to cook the tomatoes.
Blanching Tomatoes
Step by Step
1. Bring a pot of water to boil.
2.  Fill a separate, large bowl with cold water and ice.
2. Remove stems from each tomato.
3. Make a shallow cut in the shape of an x on the bottom of each tomato with a knife.
4. Drop tomatoes in water and boil for about a minute; once the skin starts to peel back, they are done.  The point is not to cook them so watch the tomatoes closely.
5.  Remove tomatoes immediately and "shock" them in the ice water.
6.  You will now be able to easily remove the skin of the tomatoes.


Weekend Update: Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter... Week 4

Well, I don't want to get my hopes up, but it looks as if we have the starts of 3 tomatoes!  I can hardly believe it! It's a good thing I consulted my green thumb friends when I saw these little flowers.  My limited gardening knowledge would have led me to rip these little puppies off.  When you see little flowers on herbs, you are suppose to remove them because they are not good for the herbs.  However, I now know that with tomatoes, this is the start of actual tomatoes! Phew, that was close.  Anyway, we have the beginning of something here so hopefully these posts will get a little more interesting in the next few weeks.  Cross you fingers!