I did not mean to disappear for seven days. We have had family in town from Florida, and thus I’ve been busy taking some day trips, eating some tasty food, and just generally enjoying these last weeks of summer. We’ve been too busy to cook! But oh man, have I been eating out. I need a junk food detox! I see lots of salad, yoga and Zumba in my future. In fact, since Mark is back working nights on top of the Freedom Trail season, I’ve switched my Blue Apron to all-vegetarian for the foreseeable future.
We had Thai food, and ice cream for the birthday girl.
Then, I took a day off to go to Rockport with my mom and aunt, where we ate lobster rolls, fried haddock, clam chowder, and old fashioned candy, and even got to see a catch of lobsters and crabs come in at the dock.
Before Georgia’s party and the invasion of the relatives I invented this milkshake for Georgia, for a few reasons. Number one: to use up a blackened banana. Number two: to get more calcium into my kid, since she stopped drinking milk when her baby bottles went bye-bye. And boy did it come out tasty!
It’s super simple to make. Just blend:
1 cup whole milk
1 banana-vanilla flavored yogurt (or just vanilla)
1 frozen banana, or fresh (in which case add ice for texture)
a dash of vanilla extract
a dash of cinnamon
Process in a blender until smooth, adding ice if you didn’t use a frozen banana for consistency and temperature. Enjoy cold with cinnamon sprinkled on top!
This doesn’t taste overly banana-y but is very creamy and refreshing. Because it’s thinner than a smoothie, it can go right into a toddler’s sippy cup just as well as a drinking glass for mom and dad!
Georgia’s party was this past weekend! The weather was gorgeous, the party was a success, and mama is tired. This is a recipe I made last week, while trying to use up even more of our garden tomatoes, which are ripening at the rate of dozens per day (!!) I like a chunky sauce but in this heat I don’t want to simmer it for hours, so I use a base to get me started, then just add tomatoes, fresh basil and seasonings. This time, I decided to see how shallots in butter would taste as a foundation for a quick summer tomato sauce, and I really liked the way it turned out. Here’s the recipe!
I chose to make it with frozen turkey meatballs from Trader Joe’s mixed into the sauce, with a side salad featuring additional tomatoes from our garden. Greens were just one head of romaine that I picked up at a sidewalk stand on my way home. The pasta pictured is penne, but you can use anything.
Garden-Fresh Tomato Sauce
1 12-oz. (1 lb) can of crushed tomatoes as a base
1 package frozen meatballs (or fresh) if using, such as Trader Joe’s
Handful of fresh basil, quantity to your taste, torn into smaller pieces (with stems removed)
1 shallot, peeled and diced, then soaked in water for at least 5 minutes
1 TBSP butter
~ half a dozen fresh tomatoes, sliced and seeds removed (scrape out with a spoon)
salt, pepper and any other seasonings to taste
Place the frozen meatballs in a medium sauce pan if you are making this sauce with them included, then pour in the entire can of crushed tomatoes and heat over medium-low, covered, while you chop the tomatoes from your garden, farmer’s market or CSA. I used between 5 and 6 smaller tomatoes, but eyeball it. You always want to have more sauce than not enough.
Roughly dice your shallot and let it rest in a cup of water that just covers it (yes, I used a baby food bowl!) which helps them to get a little less sharp. In a small skillet, heat a tablespoon (approximately) of butter (or your choice of a substitute spread, such as Smart Balance) over medium-low until melted. Add the shallot to the butter and cook for a few minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper, until translucent. Turn off the heat.
While the can of crushed tomatoes and meatballs simmer, add any seasonings to the sauce pan and keep covered over low while you boil water to cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta and rinse under cold water so it stops cooking.
Add the shallots (including the butter) and freshly-torn basil to the sauce. Season with salt, pepper, and your choice of other spices such as garlic powder, oregano, sugar, etc. I used a hearty Italian-style blend. Cover again and let simmer a little while longer. If the sauce looks too thick, add a splash of water or olive oil; if it looks too watery/thin or there isn’t enough, you can do what I did — throw in some leftover pizza sauce, which I always keep on hand — or add more garden tomatoes to bulk it up. Really, this is a very flexible recipe and you can sort of play it by ear!
I like to add in some more freshly shredded basil right at the end, and then more on top of the plate when I serve it. But I REALLY like basil, and there is a LOT in Mark’s garden right now. Pretty much, once the meatballs are cooked through (aka fork tender), this is ready to eat! I don’t mix the pasta and sauce together in one pan, but rather plate the penne and pour some sauce and meatballs over it, and finish with my side of salad. As Georgia says, “deeee-licious!”
You can serve this however you like, with or without a side, and I’d bet you could also add meat to the sauce as well if you wanted to brown some sausage or ground beef up with the shallot. I almost threw in some roasted eggplant, too, but it was so hot I didn’t really want to put on the oven to bake it. Penne was great but any pasta you prefer will do just fine! This came out tasting like I’d simmered it for hours, when in reality it is done as soon as the fresh tomatoes have broken down to your liking. The longer you cook it the more they will fall apart and liquify, but they taste good no matter how chunky you leave them. I myself prefer them to hold a little bit of form. I also added my favorite spaghetti sauce seasoning, the organic blend from Wildtree, which added so much flavor.
I hope you like this! Party photos and recap coming soon!
I can’t believe we have a two year old…this feels like just yesterday (although this doesn’t). Here she is on her birthday, at two minutes, one year, and two:
At the age of 33, I have to have my wisdom teeth out.
Guess I’d better fire up some soup and milkshake ideas.
Actually, I just made up a new milkshake last week: after getting aggravated again that Mark left a half-drunk iced coffee melting on our end table, I set out to turn an annoyance into something tasty and less wasteful.
You know how I always keep over-ripe bananas peeled and frozen in my fridge for spontaneous smoothie making? Well, I threw one of those into the blender with the rest of Mark’s iced coffee, including the ice for texture, and a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt (for deliciousness). Presto: an at-home Coffee Flavored Milkshake, which Georgia and I split while Mark was at work!
Since I was literally making this from a leftover iced coffee that already had milk and sugar in it, this required no sweetener at all, nor further liquid and ice. You don’t even have to add the froyo/ice cream; I did so purely out of wanting to make it a special Saturday treat for me and my girl. If you are working from iced coffee concentrate, like they sell at Trader Joe’s, or a home brew, definitely add ice, milk and whatever type of sweetener you enjoy to achieve the same effect. All I used was one scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt and one frozen banana to the equivalent of one small size iced coffee drink, approximately 16 ounces.
I am going to milk this upcoming dental experience for all it’s worth in the ice cream department. I’m thinking frappes from no less than my two favorite ice cream shops in Boston (actually, the world!) — here and here — both of which used to be within walking distance from my apartment. Gentrification, man! It prices me further and further out, and deprives me of fashionable gourmet ice cream to boot.
Any tips for healing up quick from a tooth extraction?? Send them (and lots of ice cream) my way!!
After all that midnight watering, Mark’s garden is peaking right now, with basil, eggplant, and — most excitingly — tomatoes simply bursting all of a sudden!
and they are irresistible, just like someone else we know…
“mommy, a-mate-o’s!”Must be the new gardener we brought on board.
Abundant tomatoes = caprese every night!
and, because I’m being so good by having salad, buttered bread alongside.
My mind was blown when I realized that supermarkets now sell pre-sliced fresh mozzarella balls (!!) which cuts the prep time for this salad down to almost nothing.
To assemble: layer sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil (whole leafs or shredded; it’s just a matter of how you like it) in a plate and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then season lightly with pepper and salt. Want to get a tad fancier? Make a balsamic reduction by simmering the vinegar in a pan with some honey for about ten minutes until it turns syrupy. A good rule of thumb is 4:1 balsamic and honey to make a tasty reduction, so for example you could use 1 cup vinegar with 1/4 cup honey and have some left over. Or, you can just buy balsamic reduction 🙂 This salad is served as a main dish for lunch in Italy or as a starter at dinner, not as a side as we usually serve salads in America. Some recipes omit the balsamic altogether, keeping only the olive oil, and some add only pepper, not salt. Its colors are meant to evoke the Italian flag and you can find this on the menu almost everywhere in Italy, because it’s so filling and healthy. As with most fresh recipes, the better ingredients you can find (freshly cracked pepper, good olive oil, heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella), the tastier this will be.