Tons of Tomatoes

A couple of days ago my mom brought over a couple bags of fresh summer tomatoes from her garden. Oh my are they beautiful! She brought huge red and yellow tomatoes plus some little cherry tomatoes. For dinner that night we cut a couple up and dressed them with some basil and dill and ate them with cottage cheese. It was so good and fresh!

I still have a ton of tomatoes left and I don't know what else to do with them! They are great on sandwiches and such but i don't know many good recipes with the tomato as the main ingredient, besides caprese salad. Right now they are sitting pretty on my kitchen counter but before I know it they will go bad, and thats no good. So I need your help.

Do any of you have a good tomato recipe to share? If not i'll be eating tomatoes and cottage cheese for lunch the rest of the week! :)


Chicken Florentine

This would be Holly's favorite chicken dish. Its one of mine too. Its so simple to make and the sauce is silky and slightly sweet. This chicken begs to be served with wilted spinach. The original recipe doesn't call for balsamic vinegar in the spinach but I like to add it for an extra punch of flavor.

Chicken Florentine
4 chicken breasts - flattened to about 1/4 inch
6 tbsp. butter
Half small onion or 2 shallots - chopped
2 cloves garlic - chopped
1 1/2 cups white wine (Get the little bottles, it saves money!)
1 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
Bunch of spinach (I like to get the bagged spinach)
Balsamic Vinegar (optional)

Dredge flattened chicken breasts in flour and fry in 2 tbsp. of butter and a little oil in a large skillet for 5 minutes per side. Keep warm in oven at low heat.

Melt 2 more tbsp. butter in same skillet, saute garlic and shallots until translucent. Add wine, increase heat to medium-high and boil about 3 minutes. Add cream and boil until sauce reduces by half, about 5 minutes. Add parsley and chicken. Keep on low heat.

In another skillet, melt 2 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add spinach and saute until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Serve chicken on top of a spoonful of spinach with wine sauce drizzled over all.


The Bradly Family Pasta Sauce

This version of marinara meat sauce is something I have perfected. It was one of the first dishes I could make without a recipe in front of me. Its wonderfully hearty and is something I can make very easily without much thought. It was hard writing the recipe out for this because I never use one! I think I got the amounts down pat, but if you decide to try this recipe I encourage you to add things like herbs, cheese or even vegetables. This is a great sauce to use for other recipes also, like lasagna or chicken parmesan (I just leave out the meat).

Pasta with Simple Meat Sauce
16 oz. pkg of your favorite noodles (my favorite is Penne Rigate)
1 Lb. Ground Beef
1-2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot or small onion, chopped
6 oz. can tomato paste
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (DRAINED)
3/4 - 1 cup red wine (I use Yellow Tail Merlot but again use whatever is your favorite)
24 oz. jar of pasta sauce (now you can use any pasta sauce you like, but I highly recommend Barilla. I found other brands were too sweet for my liking)
Basil (dried or fresh)
Salt and Pepper

Heat saute pan to medium-high heat. Brown ground beef. Season with salt, pepper and dried basil. Once no longer pink, drain and set aside.

Heat large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add tbsp of olive oil and swirl to cover bottom of pan. Add garlic and shallots. Saute until just beginning to turn brown. Add tomato paste and cook for about 3 minutes. Add diced, drained, tomatoes and red wine. Cook wine mixture down for about 5 minutes. Add jar of sauce and cooked beef. Season with salt and pepper and dried basil (if using fresh basil wait until after simmering to add it). Lower heat to medium-low, let simmer for about 30 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add a handful of salt and pasta. Cook according to instructions on package.

Top cooked pasta with meat sauce, a few leaves of basil or parsley and enjoy!


I'm never buying oreos again....

I have been meaning to try this recipe ever since I saw it last year on Smitten Kitchen. They got rave reviews from many different blogs. I finally got the nerve to go buy the ingredients and give it a go. Now I'm worried that I did this because I'm officially hooked on these. Am I going to have to make a batch of these every time I run out? They aren't exactly like Oreos but in my opinion I think they are much better. They have this wonderful crispy/chewy texture that is really amazing. I think next time i'm going to make half with the cream filling and save the other half of the chocolate cookies for mini ice cream sandwiches.

Homemade Oreos
recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen
Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies

For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa (I used the Hershey's Dark Chocolate Dutch Brand)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375˚.

In a food processor or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa , baking soda and powder, salt, sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

Roll rounding teaspoons of batter between your hands to get little balls. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. Slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, an at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip (I used a plastic baggie with a corner cut off), pipe teaspoon size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookies. Continue this process until all of the cookies have been sandwiched in cream. Dunk in milk and prepare to become addicted.


Chicken Marsala

This dish is a great one from Simply Recipes. I have modified it a bit by adding mushrooms and increasing the sauce (because its soo good over mashed potatoes!) The first time I made this I was expecting the sauce to get thick fairly quickly, but it took awhile. You just have to be patient because it will eventually thicken into a wonderful sauce. I have also made this dish with Madiera Wine and found the taste to be very similar. So get whatever you can find. Also I have used thick bacon instead of pancetta and that worked very well. If you can't find pancetta in your grocery store, you can usually find it at Italian specialty shops or deli's.

Chicken Marsala with Pancetta and Cream Recipe

Olive oil

2 oz pancetta (about a 1/4 inch thick slice), cut into 1/4 inch cubes
16 oz. white or mini portabella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium onion, diced (or you can use chopped shallots)
Flour for dredging (about 1/2 cup)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut or pounded into thin cutlets
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups dry Marsala wine
1 cup heavy cream
Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Coat a large skillet lightly with olive oil and set it over medium high heat. Add the pancetta. A little before pancetta is done add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are no longer crisp and the pancetta is brown and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan, and set aside. Add the onions to the pan and cook until translucent and slightly browned, 5-10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan, and set aside.

Put the flour on a plate. Pat the cutlets dry. Season them on both sides lightly with salt and amply with pepper. Heat the skillet with the pancetta fat over medium high. Add more olive oil, if needed, to get about 2 Tbsp of fat in the pan.

When the fat is hot, dredge a cutlet through the flour on both sides. Shake off the excess flour and immediately put the cutlet in the pan. Do the same with as many cutlets as will fit in the pan without touching. Sauté the cutlets, turning once, until browned on both sides. If thin, they should cook through in just a few minutes total. Transfer the cooked cutlets to a plate and continue sauteing the rest, adding more oil if necessary. Transfer these to the plate as well.

Pour off the excess fat. With the pan over med-high heat, add the Marsala and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the Marsala is reduced by about a quarter (about 10 minutes). Stir in the cream and boil until you get a nicely thickened sauce (about 20-30 minutes).

Return the chicken, onions, and pancetta to the pan and turn the cutlets over to coat. While the chicken is reheating, prepare mashed potatoes or other side dishes. Serve with the sauce and a sprinkling of parsley.


Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Scallion Butter

We went to the farmers market this weekend because the weather was incredible out. Not too hot at all. Its that time of year for corn on the cob where I live so I couldn't pass up a deal for 3 ears of corn for a dollar. That and I have been wanted to try this recipe since I saw it in last months issue of Gourmet, so i had to buy some corn! The butter in this is so awesome with great chipotle flavor without being super spicy. The green onions were a fresh taste in contrast to the chipotles. This dish is super easy with an incredible result. As for the recipe, I used salted butter because that was all we had and just omitted the salt.

Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Scallion Butter

3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup minced scallions (2 to 3)
1 tablespoon minced seeded canned chipotle chiles in
1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
4-6 large ears of corn, shucked and halved

rounded 1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir together butter, scallions, chipotles, zest, and rounded 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl.

Cook corn in a large pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer with tongs to butter mixture and toss.


Pork Tenderloin Kabobs with Ginger Dipping Sauce

I love food magazines....LOVE them. I have a subscription to Bon Appetit and Scott found this recipe within an ad for Hunts Tomatoes. (sometimes you have to look between the articles) And my oh my is this good. I absolutly love the smell of freshly grated ginger. That alone is worth it. When I first saw the recipe, I thought wayyyy to many ingredients for my taste but hey it was worth a try. Its actually not that hard to make. I recommend marinated the pork overnight to cut down on the some of the steps when you are actually making your dinner. I also like to serve this over white steamed rice. The sauce goes so well with it!

Pork Kabobs with Ginger Dipping Sauce

found in the May 2008 Bon Appetit


1 cup sliced green onions

3 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tbsp. finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp. finely chopped jalepeño pepper

1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch pieces

Ginger Dipping Sauce

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger

2 tsp. finely chopped garlic

1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

10 wooden skewers (6-inch), soaked in water
cooking spray

Prepare marinade: Place green onions, oil, garlic, jalapeño, ginger, sesame oil and lime juice in a large resealable plastic bag. Close and shake to combine. Add pork; turn to coat evenly with marinade. Refrigerate for 4 hours (or overnight).
Prepare sauce:
Heat small saucepan over medium heat; when hot add oil and onion. Cook 4 minutes stirring occasionally or until onion is tender. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute or until aromatic. Add undrained tomatoes, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and red pepper flakes to pan; stir to combine. Bring sauce to a simmer; simmer 10 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Pour sauce into blender, puree 1 minute or until smooth (careful with heated liquids in blenders!) Pour blended sauce back into saucepan, and keep heat on low to keep warm until pork is done.

Grill pork:
Place marinated pork on prepared skewers; discard marinade. Spray nonstick grill pan with cooking spray and heat or high heat. Or heat outdoor grill. When hot add skewered pork and cook 3-5 minutes on each side, or until pork is cooked and no longer pink. Serve with dipping sauce and white steamed rice and sprinkle with chopped green onions if you like.


Pasta ala Vodka

This recipe is part of our regular rotation of meals. We make it at least once every two weeks. It has also been a work in progress. The original recipe was a Rachel Ray recipe and it was mediocre at best. So we improved on it. Now its an amazing dish. When you look at the ingredients, you'll notice that we use two cups of vodka. No that is not a misprint. We discovered that using that much and cooking it down was the best option for us. Also we played around with different vodkas but noticed not much differences between the expensive and inexpensive brands. So we just use the cheapest vodka we can find. When you cook down the vodka, make sure you cook it until you can't smell the alcohol anymore. We made a mistake once where we didn't cook it down enough and almost got drunk off the pasta!

Try this and you wont be disappointed!

Pasta ala Vodka
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
5 cloves chopped garlic
2 shallots or 1 small yellow onion - chopped
2 cups vodka
1 (32 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
16 oz. Penne Rigate, Farfalle, Mostaccoli or Rigatoni (these are my favorites)
3/4 cup heavy cream
20 leaves basil - chopped

Cook pasta in salted water while cooking the sauce. Set aside.

Heat large pot over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic and shallots. Saute garlic and shallots for 3-5 minutes. Add vodka to pan, turn heat to high and reduce by half (about 10 minutes after it comes to a boil). Reduce heat to medium, add crushed tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir cream into sauce and season with salt and pepper. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove from heat.

Toss hot pasta and basil leaves into sauce. If needed, let pasta sit for 5 minutes to thicken the sauce. I like to make garlic bread while it thickens. Enjoy! Yum yum.


The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think every family has a special recipe for some kind of cookie. Well these cookies have been in my family for years and years. They came from a family friend who used to work in a bakery. They are chewy and stay that way for days as long as you keep them in a air tight container. I believe the key is that we add extra flour to the dough. You can also omit the nuts in this recipe but I really think they are delicious in this. Whenever I make these, they are gone within a couple of days.

If you have a favorite cookie recipe you would like to share, we would love to hear about it! Just leave a comment and maybe we'll try it!

"Steve's" Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 Cups Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted Butter
3/4 Cup Sugar
3/4 Cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar
1 Tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
1 12 oz. Package Dark Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts

About 3/4 to 1 cup more of Flour

Preheat oven to 375˚. Melt butter in microwave. Let cool completely (I like to just put the bowl of butter in the freezer for about 5 minutes). While butter is cooling, combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl (set aside). Beat (melted, cooled) butter, sugar, brown sugar & vanilla in a larger bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Gradually add flour mixture in increments. (Take some time here to lick the mixers, yum!) Stir in chocolate chips & nuts. Add more flour until not tacky. You want to be able to roll the dough in your hands without it sticking much. Roll the dough in your hands and drop on an air bake cookie sheet. Bake at 375˚ for 9-11 minutes. Be careful not to overcook! These are not supposed to be a dark brown, but a light color when they come out of the oven. Enjoy!!


Parmesan Encrusted Chicken

This is one of the few Rachel Ray recipes that I haven't totally revamped. Its such a great way to dress up plain ole boring chicken breasts. The crust is soooo good! The cheese is hard to burn so even a novice cook can whip these up in no time. The tomatoes add a wonderful freshness to the whole thing. I like to serve these with a green salad and some corn on the cob.

Since we are young and dont have much money, we like to buy the frozen chicken breasts in a box. It saves us a ton of money in the long run. If you do decide to buy the fresh chicken breasts, cut them in half before you pound them out. The fresh chicken breasts are usually huge. As for the Parmesan cheese, I like to use the kind in the tub that is sold in the deli. I usually go through an entire tub for four chicken breasts. But if you have fresh parmesan, feel free to shred your own.

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken
3-4 Chicken Breasts
Shredded Parmesan Cheese (1 Tub or about 1 1/2 cups)
1 large hothouse tomato or 2 roma tomatoes
3-4 leaves of Basil - Chopped
Olive Oil

Cube the tomatoes and mix with the chopped basil. Set aside.

Put the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and sprinkle with pepper. You don't want to sprinkle the chicken with salt because Parmesan cheese is salty to begin with.

Heat about 2-3 Tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pan. You want the heat up fairly high or the cheese wont brown, it will just melt. On a piece of foil, spread out the parmesan cheese. Press the chicken into the cheese until it is covered on both sides. I like to pile it on as much as possible. Carefully place in pan and fry for about 5 minutes per side until golden brown. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle the tomato mixture over the top. Enjoy!