Totally Amazing Tomatoes – GF, SF, DF, NF, and V of course

Once you’ve had fresh tomatoes from the garden that have been grown with love and tender loving care, then there’s just no comparison to the taste of mass-produced tomatoes that can be found at your go-to grocery store chain. The taste, the flavor, the color and even the texture are different between the home-grown or farmer’s market tomatoes and store-bought tomatoes. Don’t you agree? I adore tomatoes. Really truly. Sun-dried tomatoes are a must-have in my pantry at all times. I cannot run low on sun-dried tomatoes. Speaking of which….have you seen the ingredient list on the back of a sun-dried tomato jar? Brace yourself. Vegetable oil to top the list and too many other crazy things in there that shouldn’t be in there to be honest. So I took matters into my own hands. I bought a dehydrator and set out to dry my own tomatoes! The result?! Incredibly tasty tomato chips if you like crunchy things without preservatives and artificial ingredients. They are absolutely delicious. I’ve also made dehydrated tomatoes and am preserving them in olive oil. They are waiting to be consumed with other Italian delicacies one day soon. This is not a new idea, many people have dehydrated tomatoes, but I’m here to share with you how easy and amazing they really are and urge you to get a dehydrator!  photo 3photo 1

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Dehydrated Tomatoes by Allison

Tools: 

sharp knife

dehydrator

delicious tomatoes from a farmer’s market

cutting board

Method:

Rinse tomatoes, you may also need to de-stem and de-core your tomatoes depending on the variety to prepare them for dehydrating. Cut tomatoes into 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch slices and place on the dehydrator trays. Leave space in-between slices so the warm air can circulate around and between the tomato slices. I dehydrate mine at 55 degrees Celsius for 20-24 hours depending on the variety of tomato I used. You can sprinkle with salt, oregano, basil if you’d like. They are finished when they are dry and leathery. Sometimes I dehydrate them for 24 hours until they are brittle and eat them like chips or crisps. Either way they are delicious! Store in a sealed jar or freeze. Enjoy!

 

Gluten-free Cinnamon Yogurt Muffins by Allison

This muffin recipe is a keeper, let me tell ya! I remember tasting these muffins at dear friend’s home when I was in Elementary school way back when. This recipe has withstood the test of time. One of my Mom’s best friends, CW, used to make these for camping trips, snacks after her kids (my dear friends then and now too) and I got out of the pool, post softball games and for breakfast. I loved them then and I loved them now (gf of course) and they have that same taste I can remember from way back when. I needed to make some food for some friends of mine here in Prague who just had a baby and these muffins popped into mind! I whipped up a batch and placed them into two bags, one for the freezer and one for them to eat right away. These are a yummy, anytime kind-of-a-treat!

muffins 1
GF Cinnamon Yogurt Muffins
 slightly adapted from Cindy W’s recipe

3/4 cup margarine (Hera here in Prague)

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

8 oz. plain yogurt

2 cups GF flour (I use Schar Mix C)

1 tsp. GF baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

 

Cream together margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add yogurt and blend well. Combine dry ingredients, then add yogurt mixture (stir only until all dry ingredients are moistened). Fill greased muffin tins or cupcake liners half full. Combine 3 Tbs. sugar with 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon; sprinkle half of this mixture over batter in each cup. Fill with remaining batter; sprinkle muffins with remaining cinnamon mixture. Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 14-17 minutes. Enjoy! 

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GF Jalapeno Egg Bake by Allison

Let’s be honest. There’s nothing quite like brunch. Brunch is what you like, some like mainly sweets while others like mainly savory but the great thing is you can decide. There seems to be no rules for brunch, well at least in my book. A very dear friend of mine C made this for me  while I was home for a family gathering awhile back and it was absolutely delicious. My family enjoyed brunch together and they had to try what I was raving about! One of the things I like about brunch as it seems to be more leisurely. I tend to sip my almond milk latte versus gulp it down for breakfast on the way to work. I might even think about juicing fresh pomegranates and adding a bit of champagne or making stuffed mushrooms and pumpkin scones. Rules are made to be broken during brunch and it is fun to break the rules sometimes.
 It is one of my “go-to” dishes when I have visitors and many people have enjoyed this dish in my home. Make it and enjoy a long leisurely brunch over great conversation with friends and family. Enjoy!
GF Jalapeno Egg Bake

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adapted from Parade magazine 
Ingredients
10-11 eggs (best if from the farmer’s market)
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 pint small curd cottage cheese
200 grams  cheddar cheese shredded (about one and a half to two cups)
½ c. butter, melted
8 oz. can green chilies or 8 oz jar of jalapenos (use less if you want it less spicy)
½ c. gluten free flour ( I like to use Mix C Schar brand)
½ tsp. salt
In a bowl beat eggs until lemon-colored. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cottage cheese, jack cheese, green chilies and butter. Stir gently to mix all ingredients. (I do not use an electric mixer.)
Pour mixture into a well-buttered/greased 9 x 13 pan.
My dear friend CW likes to add sliced tomatoes to the top before baking with a slice of sharp white cheese under the tomatoes. YUM!  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until top is lightly browned. Serve with sour cream and salsa if you’d like but it delicious just plain as well! Enjoy!

Swiss Chard… a farmer’s market treasure! By Nikki

Oberusel, Germany Farmer's Market

Oberursel, Germany Farmer’s Market

This past week, our school has been on holiday for October break. Allison and myself traveled to Frankfurt, Germany to visit our good friend Anne. I have traveled many places with Anne and together we have found local food markets to purchase goodies for our various holiday adventures. Last weekend, while we wandered in the local farmer’s market in the quaint town of Oberursel, I found Swiss chard at one of the large vegetable tents.

the colorful leafy, greens

the colorful leafy, greens

Chard is one of my favorite things to eat from my mother’s garden! Swiss chard is the colorful, leafy green. It can sometimes taste bitter, similar to kale; however, with butter and garlic, it sautes beautifully- and tastes delicious. Anne’s menu plan for the evening was to roast a cut of beef and serve with a red wine mushroom sauce that Anne’s mother used to make. At the market, we were happy to find green beans, fingerling potatoes, and this chard to compliment the meal.

rainbow stems

rainbow stems

My mother would cut the stems of this chard 3/4 of the way and throw the whole leaf with stem connected, into a pan of shallow water to steam. I prefer to cut the stems off at the base of the leaves, chop the stems into small pieces and saute them separately. Add the chopped stems to a pan of sizzling butter and garlic and saute for 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently.

yummy

saute in butter and garlic

I cut the big, chard leaves into strips and add them into the same pan as the cut stems.

cut and ready to steam

cut and ready to steam

Add about 1/3 cup water, put a lid on top and let it steam for 5-6 minutes. When it is ready, you should strain the cooked chard to let the water run off.

ready to steam

ready to steam

I have never been one to enjoy cooked spinach, so when I make chard, I don’t let it get to that point where it is wilted. I prefer my greens to remain leafy with a slight crisp, and the beauty of chard is that you can cook it to your preference. We served ours with skirt steak stuffed with a sauteed zucchini and mushrooms, topped with a red wine, mushroom sauce. We also ate sides of steamed green beans and roasted, fingerling potatoes. Our German farmer’s market adventure turned into a beautiful plate of deliciousness! Thank you Anne for a wonderful meal…

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Steamed artichokes- it’s a family thing! By Nikki

Sunflowers!

Oregon Sunflowers!

Today is my last day in Oregon! I have been here for two weeks visiting with my family and friends. The days have been full seeing people for coffee or dinner, picking blueberries on Sauvie Island, floating on the lake, family picnics and BBQs, hiking in the Gorge, and a quick camping trip to the beach! It has really been a great time, but I recently told a friend  “I’m not 23 anymore and filling my days from start to finish with activity- although fun, it is exhausting!” The end of any vacation or family visit is always bittersweet. It has been special to be with so many loved ones, but I am looking forward to being in my own space… and not sleeping in a twin bed!

Lake Oswego Farmer's Market

Lake Oswego Farmer’s Market

Yesterday morning, I walked from my parents’ house to the Farmer’s Market in downtown Lake Oswego. It overlooks the lake and it is a beautiful area for the market. It is a good venue to walk around and spend a sunny summer morning.

Beautiful LO

Beautiful LO

I wasn’t sure if I was going to find something at the market to feature on the blog today. This farmer’s market didn’t lack beautiful produce, but we already had our evening menu planned- fresh corn, grilled Chinook salmon (freshly caught on the Sandy river by my brother), cucumber salad (a family recipe) and my sister made a Hawaiian Dream cake to celebrate mama’s birthday. As I was wandering around the market, I saw these Italian artichokes. I thought to myself, “this would be an excellent addition to our evening menu!”

Artichokes!

Artichokes!! Dad would steam them in a special, tall pan.

I remember eating these when we were young. Dipping the leaves into lemon mayo (lemon butter for me!) then scraping the leaves clean with my teeth. So delicious! Last night, as the plate emptied and the bowl of discarded leaves was full, my brother-in-law said, “looks like your artichokes were a hit.”

Dad's special artichoke steamer!

Dad’s special artichoke steamer!

Eating artichokes, laughing with my family and just enjoying time with them was the best way to end this visit… Happy Summer!

Steamed Italian Artichokes

Steamed Italian Artichokes

Steamed Artichokes w/ Lemon Mayo

 

ingredients: two medium artichokes, 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon fresh, squeezed lemon, pepper to taste

directions: Fill the bottom of a large pan with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water.

I use a large soup pot and my vegetable steamer basket.

Set the artichokes on the basket and let them steam for 25 to 30 minutes on low or medium low heat.

While the artichokes are steaming, mix together the mayo and lemon juice. Add more lemon or pepper to taste. Set aside.

You can check if they are done by picking a leaf from the 2nd or 3rd row and testing it by scraping the bottom of the flesh with your teeth. (A tender artichoke scrapes off the leaf easily.)

When ready, flip the artichokes upside down and drain excess water out. I like to serve mine community style, in a large bowl with an empty bowl next to it to discard the leaves.

Have fun dipping and enjoy!

Gluten-free Cauliflower Pizza Crust by Allison

I’ve made different kinds of gluten-free pizza crusts over the past two years and this is by far the best vegetable pizza base I’ve created. Even my friend and fellow blogger Nikki loved it and she can eat gluten (and has great judgment) so that says a lot! The texture turned out great and the flavor combinations were incredibly tasty. With a cauliflower crust, I make my tomato sauce strong and flavorful so it balances out the flavor of the cauliflower.  See my notes below on how I make my tomato sauce for this recipe. Now I have to say that making this recipe can be time consuming when you’re doing it for the first time but as you gain some practice it gets easier and faster the more times you make it as with any recipe but especially this one! There’s nothing like pizza and good company!

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I don’t know what I did before I had a food processor, well yes I do, I did everything by hand and it took a lot longer to make everything that is for sure!

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This is the cauliflower mixture above after I have added the eggs and spices. It should be wet in consistency and it should stick together and not be dry.

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The picture above is the pizza crust after baking for about 17 minutes! Looks delish and it is!

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Gluten-free Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Ingredients

1 medium head + 1 small head of cauliflower, riced and cooked*

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. basil

1/2 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. garlic salt

fresh mozzarella cheese, 125 grams cut into small pieces

For the pizza:

your own pizza sauce-just the way you like it! #

fresh mozzarella cheese (125 grams/4.5 ounces)

grated parmesan

roasted red peppers (or any toppings of your choice)

crushed chili flakes for a little kick!

*rice cauliflower means to either grate it by hand or in a food processor into small pieces. After the cauliflower is riced, place in microwave and cook for 8 minutes, stir often and let cool. Using your hands or a fine sieve strainer, press the water out of the cauliflower. If you skip this step, your crust will be mushy and not have the right consistency. Then you add the eggs, cheese and spices, press onto a cookie sheet lined with baking paper and bake for 15-20 minutes at 175 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until light brown. Take it out and spread on your homemade tomato sauce and toppings of your choice, sprinkle parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese over the toppings and bake for 7-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the cheese is melted.

# In my tomato sauce I combine two cans of tomato paste (for those in Prague I purchase the Albert brand tomato paste as it states right on the can “does not contain gluten”, garlic cloves, onion, garlic salt, salt, oregano, basil, parsley, olive oil and chili flakes. I cook the garlic and onions in olive oil first and add the other items to the pan and let it simmer.

Slice and enjoy!

Green Goddess Smoothie by Allison

Oh dark leafy greens, how I love to overlook you while I am planning out my meals. Let’s be honest. I’m not a huge fan of eating salad day in and day out. I don’t know about you but my salad kicks tend to come and go in waves. I try to be creative when I concoct a salad for lunch or dinner but sometimes I just want something else! So here’s a fabulous way to get those dark leafy greens in your body along with all of those vitamins and minerals all in a smoothie! This smoothie tastes amazing and can be varied to your preferences too! It is easy. It is healthy. It is delicious. Try it!

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I purchased my spinach from the Karlin farmer’s market, 2 bunches makes 2 huge smoothies.

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I always rinse the spinach twice in cold water and spin it in my salad spinner to get it as dry as possible.
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Just use an ordinary blender. I once thought that one could only make spinach smoothies if they had a top of the line Vitamix blender, but a regular blender will work too!

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The trick is to blend it for 3-5 minutes to get everything as smooth as possible. IMG_0489

Green Goddess Smoothie

Ingredients:

Spinach (2 small bunches)

apple of any variety (1 small of 1/2 large)

the juice from 1/2 large lemon

strawberries (1 cup)

1 1/2 cup water

stevia drops

Directions:

Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend for 3-5 minutes while giving the blender motor a rest after every minute or so (depending on your blender). Place in refillable bottles and refrigerate. Drink and enjoy as a great snack or as part of a meal! Can use 1/2 a banana instead of strawberries or can use an orange instead of strawberries but it will be thicker in consistency. Try using pear and celery as a unique combination too! Troubleshooting note: If the blender is having a hard time breaking the ingredients down, add more water and that should help! Enjoy!

Fancy Tomato Toast! By Nikki

early tomatoes

early tomatoes

I found these baby heirloom tomatoes at the Karlin farmer’s market a few weeks ago. It was very surprising to see these colorful gems so early in the season. I thought I would give them a try and boy, am I glad that I did!

Spring dinner... and vino!

Spring dinner… and vino!

I started my indoor herb garden again, and my basil is producing beautifully! It complimented these tomatoes well, both in color and taste. I recently saw a recipe for Tomato-Ricotta Toast. When I was younger, my family used to eat tomato toast for a quick, healthy snack. Plop two slices of bread in the toaster, slice a tomato and when the toast was ready slap on some mayo (I prefer butter!), top with the tomato slices, a little salt and pepper and enjoy! Easy and yummy! Now that I am getting older, (yes, we are in the 30’s here…) I thought I would make my tomato toast a little bit fancy. Adding a bit of ricotta cheese instead of butter or mayo and topping the tomatoes with fresh basil leaves, left my taste buds feeling very delighted… and it is a quick, easy dinner for a busy weekday evening!

Spring dinner

Fancy Tomato Toast- with Basil and Ricotta Cheese!

Fancy Tomato Toast

ingredients: 5-6 small, plum size tomatoes (any color will do!), 4-6 fresh basil leaves, 1/2 cup ricotta cheese mixed with 1/8 tsp garlic salt, 1/8 tsp paprika, fresh bread

Toast your choice of bread. Slice the tomatoes in half. Spread the ricotta on the toast slices. Top with the tomatoes and basil leaves… salt and pepper to taste.

Avocado-Cilantro Eggs- two ways! By Nikki

EGGS!

EGGS!

Happy Easter! In light of the celebrations, the festivals, and the Easter bunny, I know there are lots of EGGS being used this weekend! Colored and dyed eggs, chocolate eggs and of course, plastic eggs filled with candy, toys and other things children love to receive. But as an adult, I most look forward to deviled eggs. I have posted my Granny’s deviled eggs on The Prague Basket as part of the Thanksgiving post. They are traditional and delicious… you should try them! But recently, I came across a recipe for Avocado-Cilantro eggs. The best part about this recipe is that you will use NO MAYO! I do not like Mayonnaise so this recipe is excellent for me. I enjoyed these eggs on their own; however, as I was in a hurry to get out the door for an Easter weekend trip, I crushed these eggs to make a quick egg salad! I LOVE an egg salad sandwich. I enjoyed mine open faced before heading to the airport… However I will make them again in the Spring for a picnic or a quick summer sandwich! However you choose to eat these eggs (and I know you will!)- ENJOY!

Deviled Eggs

deviled eggs

Avocado-Cilantro Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1 ripe avocado
1/2 tsp lime juice
1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
A few dashes of Tabasco sauce
A few grinds of pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

1. Mash together avocado and egg yolks until smooth.

2. Add lime juice, tabasco and salt- mix well.

3. Add cilantro and pepper and mix until combined.

4. Fill egg halves to desired  amount and top with a cilantro leaf!

5. ENJOY!

Egg Salad

open faced egg salad sammy

Follow the same recipe as above but instead of filling the eggs, crush the egg whites into the mixture until blended!

Fill the middle of a sandwich or eat open faced like me!

Some Like ’em Scrambled, Some Like ’em Poached by Allison

Well truth be known, I like my eggs in a variety of ways. When I was growing up it was scrambled and that’s the only way I ate them . Then I ventured into fried egg land after I had some friends over and my friend E was fixing the yummiest looking fried eggs ever for his wife and I decided in the moment to indulge in one of his concoctions and boy was it delicious. Heading out for brunch on the weekend at cafes in Prague was something I did became part of the fabric of my life here in Prague. After going Gluten-Free, it was eggs that I was able to order when I was out at a restaurant as pancakes and muffins and even ham were off the list. One of my very favorite places to go for brunch is Cafe Lounge and they make the most amazing poached eggs. I kept thinking to myself, “I should learn how to make poached eggs”. But then I always heard how difficult it was to make them and you have to have the “egg poacher contraption” to assist you and such so I delayed my experiment….until Saturday. It was high time to do an experiment and see if I could have some success in making my very own poached eggs. So off I ventured to the Farmer’s Market Saturday afternoon on the river. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and people were feeding the ducks and swans alongside the river again. It was if the heaviness in the air had lifted, it was the weekend. It was time for a little indulgence, relaxation and fun it seemed. A live band playing alternative music, children sipping hot chocolate, people lined up to get their dairy products for the week and the steam coming off the are all images that you can soak up in a few minutes of experiencing the Farmer’s Market on the river. Oh yeah, a view of the castle and this beautiful city too!


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So it turns out there are many, many different methods to poaching eggs and everyone seems to have a way that works for them or at least so it seems. But I needed to “czech it out” for myself and see what worked for me! So I tried one method and it totally did not work, then I combined two methods and I achieved the infamous poached egg. Now, does it look like the poached eggs from Cafe Lounge? Almost:)

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Note: The water is a bit cloudy as the first egg attempt was an epic fail and it “clouded” the water. The important part here is that the water temperature must be around 190 degrees F, not boiling!

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I chose to top my poached egg with my red pepper pesto that I often keep a supply of in the freezer and all of that on top of a bed of spinach. It was tasty to have a fancy egg at my house for brunch this morning, yum:)

So here’s what I did:

Ingredients and Tools

Fresh eggs (however many you would like, and yes they have to be fresh eggs)

A needle (3/8 inches thick or strong enough to poke a hole in the egg or a push pin)

A wide metal mesh spoon or a slotted spoon

2 1/2 Tablespoons of white vinegar

a small cup or bowl

pot for boiling the water

water of course:)

So I used the trusty Julia Child approach which can be found here except I didn’t use a metal poached egg holder) but found using the push pin to take the air out of the large end of the egg to be helpful. I also used Smitten Kitchen’s methodology of creating a “whirlpool” in the water to help the egg take shape. Using white vinegar worked well from Marks & Spencer but it can also be found at the Thai Asian store in Vinohrady as it helps to congeal the egg white more quickly or so they say! The temperature of the water is key like I noted above and how close the cup is to the water when you pour the egg into the hot water is and how quickly you do it. The closer to the water (get as close as you can without burning your fingers) and the quicker you can pour the egg into the water, the more successful you’ll be in making a delicious poached egg. You can then use a slotted spoon to gently shape the egg while it is cooking in the water for about 4 minutes or however firm you like your eggs. Cooking them for 4 minutes usually yield a soft and runny center. You can then remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place in a bath of ice water to stop the egg from cooking and to rinse off the vinegar, then eat as desired! While my poached eggs aren’t perfect, they are incredible tasty! Hope you enjoy your eggs whichever way you like ’em!