Category Archives: tuesday tip

Caponata #TipTuesday #CooksTreat

It’s that time of year when there is a bounty of vegetables available to cook. One of my favorites is eggplant. Whether grilled, a la parmigiana or rollatini, it’s a tasty treat!

Today’s tip is how to make caponata which is a type of eggplant spread. It’s great over crostini or if you want, tossed with pasta.

Caponata

Ingredients:

    1/2 cup olive oil
    1 onion finely chopped
    1 celery stalk finely chopped (I like the inner hearts with the leaves)
    2-3 garlic cloves finely chopped
    1 1/2 pounds eggplant diced into half inch cubes (remove some of the skin to reduce bitterness)
    4-6 Roma tomatoes, diced (remove the seeds and skin if you wish. I normally don’t)
    1 8 oz can tomato sauce
    1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
    2-4 tbsp sugar
    1/2 cup capers (rinsed clean of salt or squeezed to remove vinegar)

Directions:

    Put 1/4 cup olive oil in large skillet and heat.
    Add onion and celery and saute until you they are just starting to get a caramel color.
    Add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, and heat.
    Add the eggplant and stir until the eggplant is getting browned.
    Add the apple cider vinegar and deglaze the pan.
    Mix in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, capers and sugar.
    Cook until all the vegetables have melded together. About half an hour.
    Salt and pepper to taste. Also, caponata has a sweet/sour kind of taste to it. Add vinegar/sugar to taste.
    Place in a container or toss some with pasta!
    Caponata will keep for about a week in the fridge.

I hope you enjoyed today’s Tuesday Tip!

Turnip Redux Recipe #TuesdayTip #CooksTreat

My hubby and I love root vegetables, especially carrots, beets and turnips. It’s great to be able to go to the farm market near my office and pick up some locally grown veggies and the one vendor actually has them for really reasonable prices. Here’s a photo of what the green market looks like on a regular day!

Last weekend I picked up some lovely turnips whose greens were still fresh and vibrant. Perfect for making what I call Turnip Redux which was inspired by a recipe from A Chef’s Life on PBS. This recipe uses both the turnip and the greens hence the redux.

For those of you who have not tried turnips, please give them a shot. They are cruciferous veggies that have lots of health benefits. Cancer-fighting, bone and lung health, cardiovascular and digestive aid thanks to Vitamin K and fiber in the greens. Plus, low in calories!

Turnip Redux

2 pounds turnips, peeled and cubed
Turnip greens, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 onion, chopped
Olive oil
2 tbsp butter (optional)
2 slices bacon chopped (optional)

Directions

Cook the turnips in salted boiling water until tender. Drain and coarsely mash.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the bacon (optional). Once the bacon is close to crispy, remove from the oil and add the chopped onion. Sweat it out until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute of two. Add the greens and cook until almost soft. Add the mashed turnips to the greens and cook for another five minutes or so. Add the butter and toss. Garnish with the crispy bacon. The last two steps, butter and bacon are optional.

That’s it! This makes a great side dish for any grilled meat and again, HEALTHY! Enjoy.

10 Tips for Growing Tomatoes #TuesdayTip

There is nothing tastier than a ripe tomato right off the vine, warm from the summer sun. A rinse, some salt or a little balsamic vinegar and you have an amazing treat.

Here are ten tips for how you can grow your own tasty tomatoes:

1. When choosing a tomato, make sure it’s right for your area and see if it is determinate or indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes will yield fruits for only 1 to 2 months, while indeterminate will bear fruit season long. ROMA tomatoes are a popular kind of determinate tomato. BETTER BOY or BIG BEEF are indeterminate types of tomatoes. You can visit Bonnie Plants for a list of more varieties or check the plant sticker in the pot at the nursery.

2. When planting, place your seedlings and/or transplants right up to the first set of leaves. You’ll get new roots all along the stem and more roots mean more tomatoes! However, don’t buy plants that are too leggy and overgrown.

3. Tomatoes will grow best in sandy or loose soils. They also like soil on the slightly acidic side. Add peat moss or coffee grounds to the soil to keep your tomatoes happy.

4. During season, water at least once every 5 days. During especially hot or dry weather, shoot for 2 or 3 times a week. Water the roots and not the leaves if at all possible. I set up a soaker house with a timer in my garden that waters just a little bit every day. Soaker houses are also great since they go directly to the roots and avoid water waste. You should also water regularly to avoid blossom end rot (that black stuff on the bottom of the tomato).

5. Tomatoes need about 8 hours of direct sunlight. That can be a mix of morning and afternoon sun.

6. Don’t crowd your plants. Tomatoes like space and it will avoid bugs and fungus moving from one plant to the other and also allow them to get the sunlight they need.

7. After you water, mulch. The mulch helps keep weeds from growing and keeps the soil from drying out too quickly. I use a cedar mulch since cedar also helps to keep away bugs.

8. Once the plant starts to get taller, trim off the bottom leaves. They are the ones most likely to get wet and develop fungus. Trimming them off may help stop that.

9. Be sure to stake/support your tomatoes. Tomato cages work will as do trellises in larger garden plots.

10. Fertilize your plants when you first plant them, but then wait until you have the first fruits to fertilize again. Too much fertilizer will encourage lots of leaves and growth, but not fruits.

I hope those tips help you get lots and lots of tomatoes from your garden this year!
tomato_growing_tips

10 Spring Planting Tips #TuesdayTips

Spring is supposedly here, although in NY/NJ it’s hard to tell with the 40 degree temperatures in the morning. Still, some of us have been out there, doing some planting and today I’m sharing some tips.

1. DO NOT LISTEN TO JOHN ELLIOTT ON CBS. I love you John, but you steered me wrong a few weeks ago when you said the plants would be fine outside. Sigh.

Okay, the real first tip is:

1. Don’t rush putting out the plants. Recommended planting date for the Northeast is Memorial Day. You could push it and do Mother’s Day if the weather has been warm for at least two weeks or so.

2. Clean out old leaves and other debris from your beds and pots.

3. Work the soil and loosen it up so you can get some nice aeration for those roots. Add compost or other organic matter and/or fertilizer to enrich the soil. I also work in some cinnamon into the top 2 to 3 layers to avoid fungus gnats. The cinnamon kills the fungus the gnats need to eat to survive. Organic, too!

4. If you’re a beginning gardener, make sure to check out the areas where you wish to plant. Does the area get full sun or is it in shade? Morning sun or afternoon? Once you’ve done that, it’s time to pick some plants.

5. There are lots of plants that can handle colder spring weather. Pansies for one and I love them! Also some other favorites like dianthus and petunias. You can click here for a good list of plants that can take a little cold. You can also plant bulbs the fall before for spring color and then work in annuals once the bulbs are done flowering.

6. Head to the garden shop and pick out the plants. Check their little tags for info on how high they’ll grow, how far apart and sun and water requirements.

7. Time to plant. To make life easier, lay out the pots in the way you want to plant them. It will let you adjust before getting things into the ground. Once you’re satisfied, it’s time to plant.

8. The best time to plant is early morning before the sun is too strong or later afternoon. Planting during the heat of the day will stress out your plants. Make sure the hole you dig is at least 4-6 inches depending on the size of your plant. Also, if there are too many roots around the base of the post, break them up so new roots will grow and spread out. Get rid of those jiffy pots around the plant and flatten them to use as mulch.

9. Water thoroughly so the roots can get established and after watering, mulch around the plants. Leave a little room around the plant free of mulch so it won’t rot and try to get at least 2 to 3 inches of mulch to prevent weeds.

10. Sit back and watch them grow and flower.

Here’s a photo of my daughter’s first garden. We planted it in early April when we had a fabulous spring day. It was fun explaining to her what to do and I gifted her an assortment of daylilies from my yard so she wouldn’t have to replant the entire bed every year.

Corn on the Cob with Chile Lime Butter #TuesdayTip

The warm weather has me already dreaming of BBQs on the Jersey Shore. What goes better than BBQ than corn on the cob, but making perfect corn can be tough. Overcook it and it’s too mushy. Timing is everything, but here’s a cooking tip for you and a delicious butter for you to try!

“Boiling” the Corn

The secret to boiling the corn is not to boil it! Yep, you read that right. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil for up to 6 ears of corn. DO NOT ADD SALT! Once the water has come to a boil, shut off the heat, add 4 to 6 year of corn, cover, and let sit. For 4 ears, let sit for 10 minutes. For 6 years, let sit for 15 minutes. After that the corn is done and will keep for up to 30 minutes without being overdone.

Chile Lime Butter

Melt one stick of unsalted butter. Add 2 tsp chile powder and 1 tsp salt. Heat the mixture for about 2 minutes to release the flavors from the chile powder. Add the juice of one lime and about 1 tsp lime zest. You can also add black pepper (I do not like black pepper hence why I omit it!). For a spicier version, add a little hot sauce or cayenne pepper to the mix!

Serve over the corn when you are ready to eat.

Corn on the Cob with Chile Lime Butter

A Typical Cuban Meal #Tuesday Tip

I’m in the process of writing #2 in the At the Shore Contemporary Romance series and am working on a scene where the hero visits the heroine at her condo in Jersey City. The heroine is Cuban and she knows that the hero loves Cuban food. Unfortunately, she’s been hard at work over the weekend, but she still knows where to go to pick up some great Cuban food before she comes home.

So what’s a typical kind of Cuban meal? I’ve shared some recipes with you before, so here’s a list of what you’ll see in the scene I’m busy writing. You can click on the links for the recipes or visit my Cook’s Treat page.

Black beans and rice for sure!
Citrus-marinated Roast Pork
Plantains of some kind – how about Mashed ones or ripe plantains (maduros)?
Ropa Vieja (a shredded beef dish)
Flan for dessert

I’m thinking maybe a nice sangria to help wash everything down!
Ropa Vieja

Look for ONE SUMMER NIGHT, #1 in the At the Shore Series, in October 2017. You can pre-order this contemporary romance at the following sites:

Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/2krMwfE
Amazon Paperback: http://amzn.to/2kYLWZV
B&N: http://bit.ly/2kNuo0p
iBooks: Coming Soon!
Kobo: Coming Soon!

#TuesdayTip Shoveling that Snow

We’ve got a blizzard going today. Unfortunately, that means no Philadelphia Flower Show for me this year as I was supposed to be going today. So sad. I was really looking forward to the show. The theme was Holland this year and I absolutely love bulbs like daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and more!

Instead I will be shoveling and here are some tips for you to stay safe if you’re experiencing winter snow as well.

  • Keep the loads light and try to push instead of lift.
  • If you have to lift, do so with your knees and not your back.
  • Keep your shoveling intervals short, no more than ten minutes at a time if you can.
  • Dress appropriately! Hat, scarves, gloves and good boots to stay warm.
  • Listen to your body and stop if you are feeling short of breath or dizzy.

And now, a photo of my snowy view this morning!

P.S. – I’m working on a new look for the website. Would love to hear what you think about it!