Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Sunday, May 6, 2012

mini muffuletta sandwiches

prepare these sandwiches the day before the game, picnic, or the derby.  they are quite versatile and will store well in plastic zipper bags, covered tightly in plastic in the refrigerator.  they can be served with a side of coleslaw for a nice lunch.

search for the best whole wheat small dinner rolls available in the market, or slice larger ones in half.  purchase one jar of mixed pickled vegetables and if the vegetables are too large for the sandwiches, pulse them in the food processor until they are finely chopped.  this will prevent them from falling out of the mini rolls.  spread the vegetables and low fat mayo if desired on the rolls and then top with traditional muffuletta meat and cheese.

i used provolone, thin deli turkey and think deli Genoa salami.  other choices could include thin deli ham, thin deli Swiss, thin deli pepperoni, or other favorite combinations.  additional pimiento stuffed Spanish chopped olives could be added for flavor if desired. the recipe also suggests using olive oil and vinegar dressing for enhanced taste.

serve immediately, or store and chill until ready to serve. mini muffulettas will become your new family favorite, since they transport easy and are a great sports event food.

stacked tomato salad

since we tried the salad on a stick recipe earlier last week, i thought i would also try a stacked tomato salad as well.  this stacked salad is made with kumato tomatoes which i found in the gourmet tomato section of my market in midland.  the Kumato is a trade name given to the variety of tomato developed in Spain called "Olmeca".  it is grown in Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Turkey, Australia and Greece by specially selected growers. the Kumato is a standard size variety of tomato weighing between 80 and 120 grams and has a color of reddish brown. they are sweeter than typical tomatoes due to a higher fructose content.

Kumatoes have a longer shelf life than typical tomatoes, and are considered gourmet tomatoes.

to make the stacked tomato salad, slice the tomatoes and stack with fresh mozzarella cheese, drizzle with olive oil, basil, salt and pepper to taste.  even the kumato tomato package displays the stacked salad.  these tomatoes were delicious and have received many taste awards.

bistro pasta salad

yesterday was derby day, and i served this main dish bistro pasta salad with grilled chicken.  grilling the chicken and adding is an option that could be omitted if a vegetarian salad is the goal.

to make this pasta salad, prepare penne pasta, drain and rinse in cold water.  i used a mixture of red pepper flavored pasta and whole wheat pasta noodles. i used two cups which fills a dish for presentation. 

add crumbled feta cheese, chopped red onion, chopped fresh basil and sun dried tomatoes which were not oil packed.  i find them in the produce section of the market, not in jars.  these tomatoes can be sliced and added to many dishes and will last in the refrigerator longer than standard tomatoes.  they are very flavorful and tasty.  i really love them in this salad. 

season the salad to taste with salt and pepper, chill and serve with or without the grilled chicken. 

Dijon red potato salad

don't think about running to the deli when you need a small side dish for your backyard barbecue.  try this Dijon potato salad.  it is quick and easy and comes together in minutes.

early in the day, cook about six small red potatoes.  allow them to chill in the refrigerator until ready to put together the salad.  dice the potatoes.  next, mix 2 tablespoons of good quality mustard, with 1/4 cup low calorie coleslaw dressing and 2 tablespoons of dill pickle relish or chopped pickles.  season the salad to taste with salt and freshly cracked pepper.

other options would be to add chopped watercress or parsley, bread and butter pickles instead of dill, or a different type of mustard.

any variation will be tasty and quick !

Lemon Basil chicken

in an effort to use some more Meyer lemons this week, i decided to try a lemon and basil chicken recipe. Meyer lemons are a cross between a lemon and an orange.  so the flavor is not as sour as lemons would be in this dish.

i simply used two chicken breasts in a ceramic baking dish.  i heated about 1/4 cup of olive oil with some minced garlic.  since i am not a big fan of a lot of garlic, i reduced the amount to taste.  once the garlic and oil were infused and warm, i removed the small pan from the stove top and added freshly squeezed lemon juice from three small Meyer lemons and some dried basil.  also, i added the zest from the lemons.

next, pour the mixture over the whole chicken breasts.  i placed the lemons in the dish for extra flavor while baking.  baked at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, and then slice to serve with rice or pasta.

this recipe could be adjusted for more servings, and could include more garlic and lemon to taste.

this dish was tasty and provided some nice leftovers for the next day.

Baking tip: Martha Wrap

Martha Stewart has a new product on the market that can be called genius!  It is a combination of foil plus parchment paper. 

Created and developed by Martha Stewart, Martha Wrap™ is parchment-lined aluminum foil that combines the heat-retaining and freezer-burn-preventing properties of foil with the nonstick protection of parchment paper. Oven safe up to 420° F. It is also freezer compatible.

This product is perfect for roasting, baking and steaming foods in the oven.  It could also be used to wrap and re-heat leftovers.  I just purchased this product and am looking forward to putting it to use.

Thanks to Martha Wrap, life in the kitchen just got a whole lot better.  It is a good thing Martha.