Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Almond and Herb Crusted Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes

Alright, this is another one of those non-recipe-recipes that I urge you try. I know everyone's super busy with the kids going back to school and the cramming of the last bits of errands and family vacations and activities before this season is out. The last thing you may want to do is try something complicated for dinner. This is not a complicated side dish. Bear with me. I mean, really. TRY IT. Throw a piece of fish, steak, tofu, or chicken on the grill. Then boil some potatoes, nuke some frozen green beans or saute some spinach, and MAKE THESE TOMATOES! Because, they turned out INCREDIBLY delicious!

We've had a bumper crop of heirloom tomatoes because my parents have decided to turn their tiny backyard into a tomato sanctuary. They somehow manage to make time for these beauties despite their long work hours. They baby them. They worry about whether they get enough water. They love to share them. It's truly precious. And because of their nurturing, I get to share in this amazing bounty. But there's only so many tomatoes a person can eat before getting creative. So, after spying my pantry was either pistachios or almonds. I went with the almonds because I thought of the beloved Romesco sauce...check out the nutty coating:

So this side dish, is summer boiled down. Garden tomatoes. Herbs. Nuts. It's's's delicious. We served these little veggie wonders with some hot crash potatoes (thank you Pioneer Woman--those are a dinner staple in our house), edamame, a Costco veggie souffle, and some ciabatta bread. Our little family loved them. LOVED them.

Try them with a variety of heirloom tomatoes for the best presentation--I had yellow, green, and red tomatoes. The savory crunch really compliments the flavor of the roast tomato. They shrink down a bit when you roast fact, I'm making a double recipe next time because they were that good. And then I'm going to put the leftovers in a sandwich. Maybe with Havarti cheese and some turkey or veggie bacon.

*In my 'recipe,' I used a mixture of both fresh and dried herbs. Remember that if you're using dry herbs, use a little less than fresh herbs--dry herbs tend to be much more potent in flavor. 

My three year old wanted to 'take my picture'---the result is below. Have to encourage creative outlets...

Loosely adapted from

Serves 2-4

  • 4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced in ~1/4 inch slices (or just slightly bigger)
  • 3/4 cup almonds (roughly)
  • One handful fresh herbs--your choice, rinsed and patted dry--(I used fresh basil, mint, rosemary, and dill and added a small dash of DRY parsley and oregano)
  • Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  • ~1/2 tsp. garlic powder 
  • ~1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • Olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray and set aside.

Place the almonds and herbs in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined and the nuts have been made to look similar to bread crumbs. 

Place crumbs in a shallow bowl and add the rest of the seasonings (salt and pepper, garlic powder, and paprika). 

Dip each tomato slice in the nut mixture and pat the mixture on if it starts to come off. Place the tomato slices onto the baking sheet and spray the tomatoes lightly with olive oil. 

Bake for 15 minutes and then gently flip each tomato piece--being careful not to scrape off the herb-nut coating. Continue to bake for another 15 minutes. They should be browned and crispy. 

Serve the tomatoes warm or at room temperature.

Serves about 3-4 as a side dish OR 2 people if they are more of the main entree.

I think these tomatoes would be amazing with a piece of good cheese (layer with some goat cheese for a pretty presentation), some fresh bread, and a lovely Chardonnay. But they'll probably taste best if you eat them on the porch during a cooler August evening. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Best & Easy Southern Peach Cobbler

Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.
― Alice Walker

I have been meaning to post on this recipe for a couple months but just haven't gotten around to it. This spring, we were able to enjoy our last peaches from the neighbors' tree. Those neighbors, who dropped by just to say hi, to bring us produce when they bought extra for us to enjoy, the ones to offered to babysit and watched our house when we were gone--you know the ones that you laugh, cry, and pray with--those neighbors had become our family. The peaches were just bonus. I'll never be able to eat another peach again without remembering Henry Groves back his truck into their driveway up the hill and raise my daughter up into the peach tree so she could pull the fruit off the branches.

Just look at these fuzzy little beauties!!! Their smell was simply intoxicating.

We eagerly awaited their harvest and battled the squirrels for the best ones. I asked what I could do to repay them for these gifts and Henry said, 'make me a cobbler.' I laughed. Of course, I'd only made one peach cobbler before in my life and it wasn't that good. So here went effort was worth it. I would like to thank Southern Living for a totally uncomplicated, straight-forward and easy recipe.

For the record, I think the best peaches are from Gaffney, South Carolina. You convinced me sisters-in-law. You really did. Here's the town symbol off the highway (image courtesy of wikipedia). It's right next to the double the reason to go!!!

I've seen peaches these first couple weeks of August at the farmer's markets and produce stands so if you happen to find some good peaches, I suggest you try this easy and delicious peach cobbler recipe! I'd like to try it with some whole wheat pastry flour next time--I tried the light butter before, but the real butter really makes it better in this case. Splurge.

There is no need to peel the fruit and the reviewers say you can use frozen peaches too or any kind of berries you like! My daughter had fun watching the batter rise up around the fruit through the oven window. Enjoy this delicious dessert with some vanilla bean ice-cream or frozen yogurt.

Adapted from Southern Living

Serves 8-10

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar, divided (I used slightly less)
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 4 cups fresh peach slices (I used more like 5 1/2 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice 
  • Ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional--but I used a pinch of both--so worth it!)

  1. Melt butter in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
  2. Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt; add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).
  3. Bring remaining 1 cup sugar, peach slices, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.
  4. Bake at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. 
  5. Serve cobbler warm (pull out the ice-cream!) or cool.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Barbecue Rubbed Salmon

When we recently moved, I was going through my spice drawer and found this really good rub I had made months ago. I figured it would be the perfect little helper for some fish when we moved in when I need something fast but didn't want to make anything elaborate. I was right! It's sweet and smoky and has just the right spice blend. This barbecue rub is really an awesome thing to have on hand and would make for a good gift come holiday time!

I used these salts in my barbecue rub and if you're around a Trader Joe's...try them...they are so good! I'm addicted! (please excuse the horrible cropping)

You can make the barbecue rub ahead of time and just use a little bit on chicken or fish right before baking or grilling. It simplifies dinner considerably! Add more cayenne pepper for a kick, if you prefer. So, key words? EASY. FAST. And really, even healthy!

This isn't really a recipe more than a guideline....I roasted my fish, but you can easily grill it skin side down.

We served the salmon with steamed broccoli, fresh yellow tomatoes and a side salad of corn, beans, and green onions.


Servings vary based on how many fillets you use.

  • Salmon fillets (wild-caught if you can get them)
  • Olive oil spray
  • Basic barbecue rub (my recipe follows)--about 1/2 Tbsp. for each fillet can be used
  • Lemon or lime wedges for serving, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a shallow cooking sheet pan with some cooking or olive oil spray. Place salmon skin side down on sheet. (I like to line my pans with aluminum foil--sprayed with cooking spray--to make for an easier clean-up.) Spray salmon fillets with olive oil until they are evenly covered--generally, it ends up being about 1/2 a tablespoon of rub per fillet. Gently sprinkle and pat some barbecue rub until the fillets are lightly covered.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Every oven seems a little different, so check for 'doneness'--that fish flakes easily around 15 minutes.

Serve with lemon or lime wedges.


  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup smoked paprika
  • 3 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. smoked salt (or regular coarse salt)
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. celery salt
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (or more if you wish)
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. cumin

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl—a small whisk helps break up any lumps in the brown sugar. Store in an airtight container, away from heat and light. 

Rub will keep for months!!

Use on chicken or fish. (I'm sure it would do fine on red meat, but I haven't tried it.)

Makes about 1 cup.
**If you use 1/2 a Tablespoon of rub on a piece of meat, that will give you ROUGHLY about 32 servings, as 1 cup has 16 Tablespoons (thank you Google!).