Jalapeño Popper Recipe

My friend Jen is hilarious, an amazing mom, and just about the best cook I know.  She’s not intimidated by anything (Sit-down anniversary dinner for 50?  No problem!)  She cans, freezes, and bakes.  She’s healthy and fit and feeds her family accordingly. Plus, her food is so good that, when we invite her to a party, everyone wonders—hopes—bets on what amazing dish she’ll bring.  I’m telling you this because she brought this Jalapeño Popper Recipe to a party a couple of summers ago. We’ve been making religously since. It’s one of my favorite summer appetizers.

While Traditional Jalapeño Poppers are the consummate bar food—pre-frozen, deep fried, slightly soggy, full of cheese and grease—This Jalapeño Popper Recipe lightens things up a lot.  It starts with fresh peppers, stuffs them with a combination of cheeses, coats them in crunchy panko bread crumbs, and bakes them with no oil or grease.  They are delicious with a cold beer, but you don’t feel at all bogged down after you’ve eaten them.  Instead, you feel like you’ve actually eaten a vegetable.

And August is prime Jalapeño time.  The deep green and spicy peppers come straight from the field, where the hot and dry summer that we’ve had reminds them a lot of where they came from.  Still—a WARNING: There is HEAT involved, especially with the seeds and ribs, so know what you are getting into.  It is much better to wear gloves when cleaning them (especially—experience talking— if you have contacts to pluck out of your eyes later on.).  You can’t just rinse the oil from these babies off of your hands.  Still, this Jalapeño Popper Recipe is completely worth the gloves and the effort, so give it a shot.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A quart of jalapeños
A package of low fat cream cheese (not fat free)
A bag of pre-shredded Mexican cheese blend
A bag of seasoned panko bread crumbs. (If you can’t find seasoned, I’ll tell you how to spice it up)
Three eggs
A Cup of flour

Here’s what you do:

Take your cream cheese out to soften and preheat your oven to 400.  Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with PAM or some sort of non-stick spray.

Clean your peppers.  Cut the stems off and cut the peppers in half long ways.  Use a knife to scrape out the seeds and ribs.  (If you like things really spicy, you can leave the ribs in.  I remove the ribs as much as I can, which leaves poppers mild enough for the kids to eat.) Wear your gloves throughout this process or at least completely avoid touching your face and eyes.  Also, do not put miscellaneous pepper parts down the garbage disposal because those crazy blades will vaporize spiciness and you will run from your kitchen coughing… Not that I’ve done this…

When you finish, rinse and dry the peppers.

Combine the cream cheese and the shredded cheese.  It should be a paste-y consistency.  Pack the cheese mixture into each pepper.

Now…  A note about Panko: this type of Japanese breadcrumb is crispier and airier than it’s traditional counterpart.  You can get a lot of crunch without the fryer, which makes it perfect breadcrumb choice for healthier recipes.  I mentioned earlier that you would want to buy seasoned Panko for this recipe, but I can tell you that Trader Joe’s, for example, only carries plain.  That’s where I was and what I bought.  I just seasoned them up myself with garlic salt, paprika, cumin, and a little cayenne pepper.

Get ready to bread your peppers.  Put flour in one bowl, eggs beaten with a little water or beer in another, and panko in a third.  Dredge each popper in flour, dip in egg, and then roll in panko, making sure it is completely covered.  Put it cheese side up on the baking sheet, and repeat.

Once all of your poppers are prepared, slide them in the oven for 20 minutes.  When finished, they should be browned and the cheese should be bubbling out just a little bit.  Serve immediately, with Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce or ranch dressing for dipping and cold beer for drinking.  Delicious.

See You at the Market!

Posted in Peppers, Produce, Recipes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sautéed Cherry Tomato Recipe

The thing about cooking (and I guess about almost everything) is that we can really mess it up by making it too complicated.  It’s easy to end up trying to do too much and it’s also easy to be overwhelmed.  But really, cooking should be just EASY, especially when ingredients are fresh and flavorful all on their own. This Sautéed Cherry Tomato Recipe is as easy as it gets… as is the Homemade Pita Chips Recipe that accompanies it.

Sautéed Cherry Tomatoes are versatile and quick, delicious and super-healthy.    You can eat them on pita chips, pile them on chicken, toss them on baked potatoes, or drizzle them over eggs.  You can also eat them off of a spoon all by themselves.  The star of this recipe is the lowly cherry tomato.  There isn’t a simpler or more summery snacking vegetable.  You’ll find Juliettes (bigger) and Smarties (littler) at the market.  Sautéed, they are sugary and rich and almost exotic-tasting.  Here, we pair them with garlic (pungent) and feta cheese (crumbly, cool, and fresh) for a fantastic dish that you can pull together in minutes.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

2 Pints of Cherry Tomatoes (maybe ½ Juliette, ½ Smartie, just to keep things interesting)
2 Cloves of Garlic, pressed or minced  (We have homegrown garlic at the market too.)
A Container of Feta Cheese (maybe ¼ cup?)—I used reduced fat, not fat free.
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

And then say you want to make some Homemade Pita Chips, just to get crazy?  You’ll need:

A bag of Pita Bread.  (I use Whole Grain)
Some more Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper

Here’s What You Do:

Start off by halving the cherry tomatoes.  This will allow them to soften a little faster.

Use a good heavy skillet over medium heat.  Give it a decent drizzle of Olive Oil, maybe twice around the pan.  Let it get warm, and then add your garlic.  Cook the garlic for a couple of minutes, but do not let it burn.  (Burnt garlic will make any dish bitter and just about inedible, so if it gets too brown, you will need to start over.)

Add the cherry tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.  Let the tomatoes pop and soften, but don’t cook them to oblivion.  They should still hold their shape.  Once the tomatoes have reached this point, remove them from heat and let them cool slightly.

Meanwhile, if you’re going to give the pita chips a shot, preheat your oven to 375.  Cut the pita bread into quarters and pull the sides apart.  Put them on two cookie sheets in single layers.  Drizzle them lightly with Olive Oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  (Since I mentioned the whole quality ingredient idea earlier, let me also mention that I use sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  I really do think you can taste the difference.  Let me also mention that there is nothing wrong with using Costco pita chips out of the bag.  Sometimes that kind of simple is just fine too.)

Put the pita in the oven for 10 minutes, flipping ½ way through.  The chips should be browned and slightly crispy.  (If you put both pans in at once, you may want to switch pan position at the ½ way point.)  Take them out and try to avoid eating them while they are hot enough to burn your mouth.  Little hands will try and sneak these off of the cookie sheet too, so be prepared.

Once your tomatoes have cooled a little bit, put them into a serving dish and top with feta cheese.  (You could mix in ¼ cup of chopped Kalamata Olives at this point—a delicious touch—but I never have those on hand, and anyway this blog is about simplicity.)  Top your pita chips (or other food item of choice) with the tomatoes and cheese and eat.

Here’s hoping that you are having a simply delicious end-of-summer.

See You at the Market.

Posted in Dip, Garlic, Healthy Living, Side Dish, Tomato | Leave a comment

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce Recipe

Here it is—a very low effort narrative in honor of a very low effort, but absolutely delicious, Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce Recipe.

Say you have 10 minutes to prep, two hours to hang around (clean? trashy novels? a little Olympics?), and then another ten minutes to boil some pasta for dinner…  Turns out you have time to make an out-of-this-world farm-to-table pasta sauce that will blow you away with it’s tomato-y goodness.

Here’s what you need:

Enough Roma Tomatoes, stemmed and cut in half, to completely cover the bottom of a jelly roll pan.  (Romas are oblong, small and meaty.  Ask at the market, and we’ll point them out to you.  A jelly roll pan, by the way, is a cookie sheet with sides.  You need the sides for this!)
An Onion, sliced
A handful of fresh basil, or a couple of pinches of dried herbs
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
Olive Oil, about ¼ cup
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar
black pepper to taste

Here’s what you do:

Preheat your oven to 375.

Cut the stems off of your tomatoes and then cut them in half again long ways.  Lay them all out on your pan, skin side up.  They should be in a single layer but they should fill the pan completely.

Top the tomatoes with the onion, basil, and garlic.

Drizzle the whole thing with olive oil, about a ¼ cup.  (You really don’t need to measure.)

Sprinkle with salt, sugar, and black pepper.

Stick the pan in the oven for 2 hours.  After the first hour, the veggies will be swimming in juice.  Then, the juice will start to reduce to thick and sweet syrup.  The tomatoes will collapse and blacken a little.  The kitchen will smell like an Italian restaurant.  Hungry people will come out of the woodwork.

Take the pan out the oven.  Let everything cool just a little and then put the contents of the pan into your food processor.  (The original recipe, which I copied from the Disney website a few years ago, called for a food mill, but we don’t have one, and we love the thick texture of the sauce that results when we just grind everything up.)

Process, and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Serve over warm pasta, on homemade pizza, or just with crackers.

(By the way, you can make this Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce Recipe in bulk and freeze it as well.)

See you at the Market!

 

Posted in Healthy Living, Onion, Produce, Recipes, Tomato | Leave a comment

Peach Blackberry Cobbler

This summer has been pretty near perfect.  Hot weather.  Plants that easily offer up their bounty.  Happy, butterscotch-colored children and swimming pools and sprinklers .  Now, as school supply ads pop up, we realize (again) how quickly this season will end. We try to stretch August out, but only hurry it along.  This recipe—Peach Blackberry Cobbler—slows us down, helping us to savor the last bit of summer vacation.

Red Haven Peaches and local blackberries are what these weeks taste like.  Juicy, sweet—and fleeting.  Of course, both are good all by themselves.  Red Havens are known for their peach flavor.  They are free stone too, which means the flesh pulls right away from the pit, making them easy to eat or to slice.   Blackberries also define the wide summers of childhood for many of us, and while you still might be able to find thorny tangles of your own to pick from, you will appreciate the convenience of being able to grab a at pint (injury free) at the market.  Blackberries and Peaches, available for such a short time, combine to make an absolutely heavenly cobbler.

The beauty of a cobbler is in its name; “cobbler” means cobbled together—something you can pull off quickly from the ingredients you have on hand.  Like our near perfect summer, it is a dessert of impulse.  Still, it showcases the flavor of summer fruit like nothing else that I know.  We eat it out-of-the-oven after dinner with a scoop of ice cream and warmed up again for breakfast with a drizzle of milk.  We call relatives (who appear almost immediately) to let them know it’s here and to invite them for a taste.  We pull bits of the biscuit topping off as it sits in the fridge and dip our fingers into the syrupy fruit.

I promise you—this Peach Blackberry Cobbler adapted from a simple Betty Crocker recipe might be one of the most delicious things you eat all summer.  And, like summer, you’ll want to make it last.

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the fruit:

1 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
½ t. cinnamon
About 8 cups of peaches (I think I used 11)
Juice from ½ a lemon
A pint of blackberries

For the biscuit topping:

6 T. shortening
2 c. flour
2 T. sugar
3 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 c. milk

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, with the rack in the middle.

Peel, pit and chunk your peaches.  Don’t worry about being too exact with the amount of fruit you use.  I honestly don’t measure it out, but tend to use more rather than less.  Sprinkle the peaches with lemon juice so that they don’t brown and set them aside.

In a saucepan, wisk together the cornstarch, sugar, and cinnamon. Mix in your peaches and cook them over medium heat, stirring often.  Once they come to a boil, cook about one minute longer, stirring constantly.

Put your stewed peaches into a large casserole dish.  My cobbler dish is also the baking pan that I use for lasagna.  It’s deep and close to 9×11.  Sprinkle your uncooked blackberries over the peaches.   By not stewing them, they won’t turn the entire dish purple and the blackberries will sort of hold their shape.  Put the fruit into the oven to keep it warm.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the shortening, using a pastry blender or two knives.  Stir in the milk.  Take the fruit back out of the oven, and drop spoonfuls of the biscuit dough on top.

Bake the cobbler for about 25 minutes or until the biscuit topping is golden brown. Watch it at the end so that it doesn’t burn.

Serve warm—ice cream optional but recommended—and enjoy every last bite.

See you at the market!

Posted in Blackberries, Cake, Dessert, Fruit, Peaches, Recipes | Leave a comment

Refrigerator Pickle Recipe

Dinner is different this time of year.  We eat inside in the winter, around the table, sitting in chairs, using silverware and our generally passable manners.   In the summer, routine slips to the side for either a quick bite or a leisurely gathering. We eat outside, where our main course is usually something off of the grill, accompanied by whatever is particularly abundant at the market.  This week, we have plenty of pickling cukes, which means we have lots and lots of sweet, vinegary, delicious refrigerator pickles at home.

This particular refrigerator pickle recipe has graced our family’s summer tables for as long as I can remember, and I only have to look once at the stained index card where it is written to remember the right proportions of ingredients for the whole summer.  This year, I looked a little more carefully as I thought about posting it here. I had to laugh.  At the bottom of the refrigerator pickle recipe, someone had written “Ready in a few days.”  …Ha!

These are good enough that they have never EVER lasted a few days (and I have never read close enough to notice that particular instruction).  We make them, sneak pickles out of the bowl until dinner, and then eat them up.  If they taste that delicious after only a few hours, I can only imagine how good they would be if we could wait.

Ingredients:
A quart of pickling cucumbers
1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
1 T. salt
1 T. celery seed
¾ C. sugar
½ C. distilled white vinegar

Slice your cucumbers thin, with the skin on.  Combine with onion.  (You can also chop a medium green pepper and include that here.  The recipe on my index card calls for it, and I remember it being good.  Still, I never add that because we like plain old pickles.)

Sprinkle with salt and celery seed and let everything rest for an hour.  The salt will pull liquid from the cucumbers and they will pretty much be covered.  Wisk together your sugar and your vinegar.  Pour the mixture over your vegetables and stir to blend.  Cover and refrigerate.

It is true that these refrigerator pickles will be ready in a few days, but it is also true that they will be ready enough in about an hour.  In fact, if you taste them right away, they will still be pretty good.  This is a great picnic side dish and is also wonderful on hotdogs or brats.

See you at the market.

 

Posted in Cucumbers, Pickles, Produce, Recipes, Salad, Side Dish | Leave a comment

Homemade (Straight-from-the-Market) Salsa Recipe

We do eat a lot of ketchup.  I try to feel less guilty, lugging double-packed vats out of Costco, by telling myself that at least school cafeterias call it a vegetable, but I know there is quite a distance between farm and table on this one.  So I am happy, this time of year, as our obsession with tomato-based condiments takes a fresh direction: Homemade (Straight-from-the-Market) Salsa.

It’s true.  As much as they like ketchup, and as much (honestly) as some of them could give or take tomatoes, my kids LOVE fresh salsa.  Some of you might call it pico de gallo or salsa fresca, because nothing in our homemade salsa recipe is cooked, but whatever you call it, the vegetables get to show off their colors and flavors in a big, beautiful way.  While it’s true that salsa is great with tortilla chips (and we still buy those in big bags at Costco), it’s also great on anything Mexican, on hotdogs, or spooned over fish or chicken.  We’ve even dunked grilled cheese in the juice at the bottom of the bowl.  Straight from the fields and… So. Good.

Garden fresh tomatoes make a difference here.  We never make salsa until they ripen, but then make it almost continuously until October, bringing it to every picnic and BBQ we are invited to.  (I bet, even if we weren’t invited, showing up at the door with a bowl of this stuff might gain us entrance.)

Anyway, here’s how to do it. Almost everything in this recipe (save the citrus, cilantro, and garlic salt) can be found at our Home Market.  As always, you should feel free to add more of what you like—garlic, if you like it garlicky; jalapeños (or ribs/seeds), if you like it spicy; lime juice, if you prefer that citrus flavor.  I always add extra cilantro because we enjoy the taste and it comes in big bunches that need to be used up.  Whatever you do, you really can’t mess this salsa up—and it is way more fresh, healthy, and farm-to-table than that other red condiment!

Chop, Combine, and Chill for few hours:

3-4 Tomatoes
1 Green Pepper, seeded
½ Onion
½ – 1 Jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed
6 sprigs Cilantro
2 cloves Garlic, minced
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 tsp. Garlic Salt

There was a time when we sold this at our market.  While we don’t offer it ready-made anymore, you can easily make it yourself. Come see us at The Red Wagon and tell us that you’re giving our salsa a try.  It’s worth the trip!

 

Posted in Dip, Green Pepper, Healthy Living, Onion, Produce, Recipes, Salad, Side Dish, Tomato | Leave a comment

Camping Corn

At Red Wagon, we grow and sell vegetables and fruit that define SUMMER– fresh from the fields, ripe, delicious, and chosen for taste.  This weekly blog is a new addition to our website, designed to share easy mouth-watering recipes featuring the freshest produce available at our market.

Nothing says summer like Red Wagon Sweet Corn.  On hot nights, when meat feels too heavy, we eat only sweet corn for supper, paired maybe with fresh fruit or cucumbers and tomatoes.  A lot of times, we head home from the farm and boil our corn (not too long: get the water to a rolling boil, drop in the corn, and turn off the stove), but a FAVORITE method around here is what we call “Camping Corn.”  You can make it over a campfire, but it’s just about as good on the grill: buttery, smoky, and steamed tender.   You’ll only need butter, salt and pepper (or herbs of your choice), and squares of aluminum foil big enough to wrap each individual ear of corn.

Shuck the corn first, and remove as much of the silk as you care to.  Tear off a piece of aluminum foil big enough to wrap around single ear.  Put the cleaned ear in the center and use a butter knife to spread softened butter all over the ear.  Don’t worry if you miss a few spots; you don’t need a ton of butter for this to be delicious.  Salt and pepper the corn according to your taste.  If you’re in the mood for something a little more gourmet, you can add garlic, herbs, or parmesan cheese, but our kids get suspicious if we mix things up, so salt and pepper is about as adventurous as we get.  After you’ve seasoned the ear, roll it tightly, twisting the ends.  Repeat with each ear and place them all on the grill.  If you’re using a gas grill, medium heat is fine, but charcoal will give you a smokier flavor.  Leave them on for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally.   I like mine a little burnt, so I take the ones right over the flames, while the kids like theirs more steamed and take the ears from around the periphery. Either way, the results are delicious, and everyone ends up full and buttery, glad there is no obligatory meat course to eat at the end.

Avoid throwing away leftovers, should you happen to have any.  Slice fire-roasted corn off the cob to toss in salsa or tomato salad, use on tacos, or freeze to throw in chili in the fall.  In fact, whenever we serve corn, I almost always prepare a few extra ears, so I can fill up a freezer bag after each meal.  There is nothing like the taste of summer when leaves are off the trees and snow is in the air

Of course, we don’t like to think about that now.  This is July, a perfect time to Welcome You Back to The Red Wagon.  See you at the Market!

Posted in Local Sweet Corn, Recipes, Salad, Tips | Leave a comment