Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hot Sauce

So, our tomatoes are FINALLY coming in and I couldn't be more excited!!  We take our hot sauce (salsa to most people that don't live in Texas) very seriously.  My family and I really don't like store bought sauce but do use it when that's all that's available.  For the most part, at least 3/4 of our tomatoes that are grown are grown specifically for canning hot sauce.  I used to give it away when friends and family would come over. I don't do that anymore.  I figured out that the amount of time it takes to prepare it and can it, they can do it themselves.  It's really not that I'm being mean but it is a LOT of work!  All that being said, it is so worth the work!

Here is the recipe that I've used to can hot sauce for at least 15 years.  I had an older neighbor (she could be my grandmother) show me how to can.  One of the best skills I've ever learned!

Hot Sauce

16 cups fresh cored, peeled, and chopped tomatoes
3 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped jalapeno peppers (more or less depending on the heat of the pepper and your tolerance for heat)
1/4 cup salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups vinegar

 Cook down until you get the consistency you like.  This can take about  1 1/2 hours to 2 hours.  Seal in prepared jars.  Makes about 8 pints.

This is before the cooking begins.
While cooking.

All sealed and ready to store.  I only had a partial amount of tomatoes ready so it made a smaller batch.  That's okay though, no tomato is ever wasted around here!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sauteed Zucchini and Tomatoes

Sauteed Zucchini and Tomatoes 

I told you we had a LOT of zucchini and squash...and I really mean a LOT!  Some will get a way from you and grow into Hulk size in a day....

(See I told you! I chopped one of the large ones and it filled up a gallon bag!  Crazy!!)

So, the town I live in has a Farmer's Market.  This has been great for getting rid of some of it because I've frozen all I'm going to (have to keep room for other stuff coming out of the garden too)!  However, when it comes out of the garden early in the week, I have to do something with it since the market is only on Saturdays.  As you guessed it, here's another way to cook zucchini (or you can use yellow squash)...

Sauteed Zucchini and Tomatoes 

Zucchini (or any similar squash), Diced
Diced Fresh Tomatoes (canned will also work but drain most of the juice off)
Sliced Mushrooms
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

To a hot skillet, add a little olive oil.  Sauteed the onion and garlic in the oil briefly, just to soften.  Add the zucchini, tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Just eyeball this part.  I don't have exact measurements since it's going to depend on how much squash you have.  When zucchini is beginning to soften (we like it still with a little bite to it) add the mushrooms and cook a few more minutes.  

This is a great side dish but if you add quite a few tomatoes, it makes an awesome pasta sauce!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Venison Spaghetti Sauce with Veggies

Venison Spaghetti Sauce with Veggies

Here's another thing to do with all the zucchini and squash we've been getting.  I make big batches of this sauce and freeze it.  It's great to come home after a busy day and just defrost the sauce, cook some noodles, make a quick veggie, and garlic toast.

                  Venison Spaghetti Sauce with Veggies

Approximately 2 pounds of tomatoes (peeled and chopped)
1 chopped onion
3 – 4 cloves minced garlic
1 pound ground venison meat (can use regular ground beef or turkey)
3 tbsp. fresh chopped oregano (or less of dried)
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small yellow squash, diced
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp. fresh chopped basil (or less if dried)
½ tsp. red pepper (can use flakes or powder) – optional
1 cup dry red wine (Merlot, Cabernet, etc.)
2 to 3 cups water
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

Place a little olive oil in a large HOT pot.  Brown ground meat.  Saute the onion for a little while until soft.  Add garlic for about 30 seconds more.  Add the tomatoes and remaining ingredients.  Cook until you reach the consistency you like (for me, it's usually an hour or longer).

All the spices are approximations.  I don’t measure anything and have just played with it until I get the flavors I like.  Further, if you don't have fresh tomatoes, use a 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes and 1 can tomato sauce.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Veggie Lasagna

So, as you all know, we have had a LOT of squash and zucchini.  Well, here's another recipe that I came up with...Veggie Lasagna without any noodles!  Give it a try, even my meat eating husband liked it!  That's high praise from someone who has meat at EVERY meal!

Veggie Lasagna

2 zucchini thinly sliced length-wise
2 yellow squash thinly sliced length-wise
Approximately 2 cups mushrooms sliced thickly
2 jars Classico Sweet Basil Spaghetti Sauce
1 16 oz container Ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
1 box frozen spinach

Defrost spinach and drain really well.  Mix spinach, Ricotta cheese, Mozzarella cheese (reserve about ½ cup), and egg for filling.  In bottom of 9x13 pan, pour a small amount of the spaghetti sauce (about ½ to ¾ cup).  Spread out and lay the thin strips of zucchini in a single layer.  Put ½ of the filling on top of the zucchini.  Pour about ½ to ¾ jar of spaghetti sauce on top of the filling.  Layer mushrooms next covering with filling and more sauce.  Finish with a layer of yellow squash, more sauce, and the remaining ½ cup of cheese.  Bake at 350 covered for 45 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes.  Let sit at least 20 to 30 minutes before serving so it will firm up.  (Note:  I did not use all the sauce but 1 jar wasn’t enough.  I used about a jar and a half.)

Before going into the oven.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Oven Fried Squash Patties

Oven Fried Squash Patties

I haven't written on this blog in quite a while, the Spring Semester at school was uber busy plus all the Spring things that come with living in the country :)  One of those is gardening.  We love fresh veggies and usually have a lot to cook, can, freeze, etc.  This year our squash has gone nuts!  My family loves squash and zucchini grilled, roasted in the oven, sauteed on the stove, stir-fried, and put into spaghetti sauce.  I was running out of ideas.  My husband grew up with fried squash (I did not, my mom always boiled it on the stove).  I was trying to think up a way to make it "fried" without frying it.  This is what I came up with and I was very happy with the results (although next time I'll add one minced jalapeno just because I think it will taste great!).  The down-side, turning on the oven in the heat of the summer, the up-side is there is no frying and minimal oil involved.

3 large yellow squash, shredded and drained between paper towels
1 small onion, minced
1 1/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
2 beaten eggs
Non-stick Spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  I had to use my hands to mix this, a spoon just didn't cut it!  Form into patties and place on either a well sprayed cookie sheet, one lined with parchment paper, or use a baking stone (I use stones so I don't have to add any additional fat).  Spray the tops of the patties lightly with non-stick spray.  Place in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.  Turn the patties over and cook another 15 to 20 minutes.  I'm sure you could cook these with less time but I wanted mine crispy!  Take out of oven and let sit for a little while before you eat them...they are hot!!  Enjoy!

Before going in the oven.

After coming out of the oven.  As you can tell, I use my stones for EVERYTHING!!  I have one that's almost black and nothing sticks to them!