Monday, July 23, 2012

Refreshing Tomato Watermelon & Feta Salad

Yes, a salad can be refreshing, especially in the Phoenix heat. When temperatures start to rise outside I lose all desire to eat; much less cook.  So I try to focus on preparing more fresh, light and cold meals. I find this is also a great way for me to incorporate more fruits and veggies into my life.

During a recent visit to the Farmer's Market I picked up the juiciest watermelon and some really ripe tomatoes and decided to make a watermelon salad.  This healthy and refreshing mixture makes for a perfect meal on hot summer nights.

I am including this in the Tomato Love Recipe Exchange being hosted by Gimme Some Oven and Bake Your Day  and sponsored by Big Kitchen.  Also visit Recipe for Change to learn more about how to support tomato farmers.

Tomato, Watermelon, & Feta Salad

2 1/2 cups seedless watermelon, in 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups tomatoes, in 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup feta cheese, in 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup basil, roughly chopped

Mix everything together in a bowl and toss to coat.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to get all ingredients cold.

Monday, July 16, 2012

An Anniversary, A Give Away & My 5 Favorite Blog Posts

My blog turned 5 in June.  Can you believe it; I've been posting all of my favorite food things for 5 years now.  It feels like only yesterday I started this venture.

So how did the idea of a blog come to me?  Well it all started one hot summer night back in 2007.  Sitting by the pool with one of my oldest (not in age) friends, Don Black, having a chat session about the Phoenix food scene or lack there of.  We were both east coast transplants and were use to having food experiences that were special, local and unique at our fingertips.  Moving to Phoenix took a lot of adapting; a lot of hunting and a lot of cooking at home.

Don Black, 2011 Geico Commercial
After hours of venting Don suggested I start a blog "let others know how you are dealing with this change in food culture" his thought was there had to be people out there just like me that would benefit from what I'd been through and how I've adapted.

So that's what I did.  The first few posts were short; barely a paragraph.  They got minimal views and even less comments. But I didn't care and I plowed through.  I was enjoying having my own personal space to talk about my passion and I didn't expect much more to come from it.

Fast forward 5 years and I'm still blogging....not so much about the Phoenix food scene anymore or my tribulations to adapt but more about my food experiences in general.  My posts have grown in length and my followers have grown in numbers.  It's been a fun 5 years for me and I hope you've been enjoying it too. 

Here's to at least 5 more and to Don for giving me that kick in the butt to get this started.  Without his push the 5 blogs favorite...would never have been written. 

1.  Cooking and Climbing in Praiano, Italy

2. I'm Having An Affair

3. Eating My Way Through Philadelphia Part 1 and 2

4. Getting Reservations at Babbo and How I Met Mario Batali

5. Philadelphia Food, Friends and Turning 40

 ***The Give Away***

In honor of this blog milestone I'm giving away a copy of Southern Living's Big Book of Cup Cakes. All you have to do to be entered is leave a comment on this post.  Contest ends midnight, est. 7/23/2012.  One lucky comment leaver will be randomly picked to win this book.  Good Luck!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tomato Love Is Here....

Where does my love for tomatoes stem from?  Most likely my grandparents; who grew their own every summer.  Not an easy task in their tiny cement backyard, but they did it and we always had fresh tomatoes on hand.

My grandparents and their prized tomato plants

To this day I still eat a lot of tomatoes and I'm always looking for cool new ways to prepare them.  So I am happy to join in on the Tomato Love Recipe Exchange, hosted by Gimme Some Oven & Bake Your Day, sponsored this week by KitchenAid.  If you love tomatoes at all you'll want to be sure to check out all the recipes and also, visit Recipe for Change to learn more about how to support tomato farmers.

Roasted tomatoes make great bruchetta toppings, and bruschetts's make great appetizers. I know what you're thinking: another recipe for original.  But trust me...this one is different and you will love it.

Bruschetta with Roasted Tomatoes & Whipped Ricotta
(adapted from Domenica Marchetti)

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs fennel seeds, crushed
1 1/2 lbs cherry tomatoes, halved
12 slices crusty bread, toasted & drizzled with olive oil
8 ozs ricotta cheese, whipped with olive oil & salt to taste

In a small bowl mix together the olive oil, garlic, crushed fennel seeds and some salt.  Let stand for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 300.  Arrange tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet, spoon oil mixture over tomatoes. Bake until shriveled & brown about 11/2 hours.

To assemble bruschetta:  Spread each piece of toasted bread with some whipped ricotta and top with a generous amount of tomatoes. Arrange on a platter to serve.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Herbed Tuna Burgers with Tapenade & Tomatoes...Guest Post by Joanne of Eats Well With Others

Do you know Joanne from Eats Well With Others?   She's a med school student in NYC and marathon runner that loves to cook.  Her blog is a real life account of all three wrapped into one.  Needless to say I really enjoy reading her posts; they are always funny and always delicious. 

Joanne has agreed to guest post here today and I couldn't be more excited; I'm sure your going to love her and her Herbed Tuna Burgers with Tapenade & Tomatoes.

There comes a time in everyone's life when the people who love them most have to stop trying to change them into the carnivores they want them to be, and must just accept them for the sushi-eating vegetarians they truly are.

My parents have not yet reached that point.

We've made great strides in the past year, to be sure. But my mother has only just begun to recognize that chicken is not, in fact, a vegetable. Chicken broth is still a work in progress.

So it was with great hesitation that I decided to cook these tuna burgers on Father's Day. I didn't want to undo any of the progress we've made or confuse them further about what does or does not constitute a plant...but my dad is a meat-and-potatoes kinda guy. And while the jury is still out on how he spawned a daughter who craves brussels sprouts more than she does ice cream, I love him.

On went my pescatarian hat for the day (it only comes out two or three times a year) and into the grill went these burgers.

I'm pretty sure the man couldn't have been prouder.

One day I'll get him to beam like that over some grilled asparagus.

One day.

But until then...there's always tuna burgers.

Because tuna is not very fatty, it needs a bit of extra help staying moist and retaining its flavor. To aid in these endeavors, the patties are stuffed with chopped capers, shallots, mustard and thyme and served on a delicious homemade bun that is smothered in tapenade. As a result, each bite is absolutely bursting with flavor.

Herbed Tuna Burgers with Tapenade and Tomatoes
Serves 8, adapted from Bon Appetite

For the tapenade:
• 1 cup pitted kalamata olives
• 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tbsp chopped shallots
• 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
• 2 tsp fresh lemon juice

For the burgers:
• 2 lb chilled fresh tuna steaks, finely diced (preferably wild caught)
• 2 tbsp chopped drained capers
• 2 tbsp chopped shallot
• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
• 1 tsp minced fresh thyme
• 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
• 3/4 tsp coarse kosher salt
• 8 burger buns (I made these)
• sliced tomatoes (I used kumatos)


1. For the tapenade, blend all the ingredients together in a food processor until they are coarsely pureed. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl.

2. For the burgers, gently mix together the diced tuna, capers, shallot, dijon mustard, fresh thyme, salt and black pepper in a large bowl. Divide into 8 equal patties. Place on a plate. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

3. Prepare barbecue over medium-high heat. Grill burgers until mostly cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.

4. Spread the bottoms of the burger buns with the tapenade. Top with burger and tomato slices.