Matches for: “simple summer suppers” …

Simple Summer Suppers: Roasted Tomato Caprese

garden dinner on the balconyThe challenge is on! We need to eat up all of our tomatoes around here before they go bad and before we hop on a plane for Japan. We’ve been giving away tons of red beauties, but still have so many to use! Last weekend, we had a mini-garden fest with our friend, Karen. We dined on our favorite panzanella, lightly grilled zucchini, Karen’s citrus rice salad and this delicious roasted tomato caprese salad. We were so lucky that the weather was perfect for dining outside on the balcony.

Honestly, it seems like a shame to roast perfectly delicious, garden-grown tomatoes…but it’s more of a shame to let them go to waste. I really think this salad will be a good one to try this winter with sad, peaked grocery store tomatoes. I’ll let you know. But for garden tomatoes…holy cow, the salad is crazy-good!roasting tomatoesIna Garten’s Roasted Caprese Salad

12 plum tomatoes (or the equivalent in lovely tomato varieties from your garden), halved with seeds removed

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

16 oz fresh mozzarella

handful of fresh basil, julienned

Preheat your oven to 275 degrees while you prep the tomatoes.roasting tomatoesPlace your tomatoes on a sheet pan (I covered mine with parchment paper to reduce sticky messes.) cut side up and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add garlic, sugar, salt and pepper.

Roast for two hours.

Cool tomatoes to room temperature and dump contents of pan (tomatoes and liquid) into serving bowl. Add fresh mozzarella (sliced) and basil. Mix and serve.roasted tomato capreseIna recommends arranging everything beautifully and adding a bit of extra olive oil, salt and pepper. But we found that the dish is fine without the extra oil. And while it’s lovely to serve alternating slices of tomato and mozzarella, serving it in a bowl is easy and rustic (and in no way lazy at all).

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Simple Summer Suppers: Homegrown Panzanella

IMG_0004Tuesday I was watching the TODAY Show (Don’t judge…it’s a sickness, I know.) and Giada was whipping up a dish with bread and tomatoes and artichokes and vinegar and basil–panzanella! I could not stop thinking about it. So I decided, eying the fresh harvest of tomatoes and basil sitting on the counter, that we would have to have panzanella for dinner.

Panzanella is the perfect summer meal. It’s the ideal recipe for fresh garden (or farmers market) tomatoes. I can’t imagine this dish could ever be enjoyed in the winter with the mealy, barely pink, imported grocery store tomatoes. Nope…better enjoy it now while we are harvesting the rich red tomatoes of summer.

Homegrown Panzanella
(slightly adapted from Giada’s Artichoke & Tomato Panzanella)

3 cups bread, cubed into 1-2 inch pieces (I used ciabatta)

3 large tomatoes, cut into 1-2 inch pieces, or sliced (I used a mix of tiny Juliets and two big Brandywines, all freshly picked from our garden!)

1 can artichoke hearts, sliced in half

handful of chopped basil

2/3 cup good olive oil (For salads, we love Trader Joe’s California Estate Olive Oil.)

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

drizzle of olive oil for cooking

salt & pepper

Preheat a grill pan on medium heat. Toss your bread and artichokes with a little bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and add the bread and the artichokes to the preheated grill. Turn every couple of minutes until each side is golden brown. Remove from the grill and add to a serving bowl with your tomatoes and basil. Toss to combine.

Whisk the good olive oil and vinegar together and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the salad. Toss and serve.

You could add olives, red onion or parmesan cheese.

As it was, the panzanella was amazing. We ate it as our main course, with a side of fresh green beans from the farmers market and a couple of glasses of red wine. We took advantage of another mild summer night and ate outside…it just might have been the perfect summer meal.DSC_0113

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Simple Summer Suppers: Lemon Chicken Pasta

 

DSC_0021It’s hard to pick a favorite summer supper…but this one might be it. Naoto and I have been making this for years and it’s become our go-to recipe for guests because it’s no stress and it’s always a crowd pleaser.

Just like the Greek Orzo Salad, Lemon Chicken Pasta is a Giada de Laurentis recipe that we modified and made better (well, better for us, anyway.)

Lemon Chicken Pasta

1 pound angel hair pasta

2-3 chicken breasts (roasted)

2/3 cup olive oil

2/3 cup grated parmesan

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

extra parmesan for serving

Roast your chicken breasts. (As I said here, the only no-fail way I know how to cook chicken breasts is to season them with salt and pepper, fold them up in little foil pouches and pop them in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until my meat thermometer says 165 degrees.)

Boil a pot of water for the pasta.

While the chicken is roasting and the water is coming to a boil, make the sauce: whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and grated parmesan in a large serving bowl. Set aside.

When the chicken is done, slice it into bite sized pieces and add it to the serving bowl.

Boil the angel hair until it’s al dente. Drain the pasta, but reserve a cup of the pasta water for later (just in case).

Toss the pasta and the chicken in the lemon sauce. If the mixture seems dry, add a little bit of the cooking liquid to loosen things up. Once everything is mixed in well, add the chopped parsley and lemon zest for garnish.

Serve with extra parmesan.

If you don’t want to turn the oven on during the hot summer, you can pick up a whole roasted chicken from the deli section of the grocery store and use that instead of the chicken breasts. And, of course, you could leave out the chicken and just make the lemon pasta (as Giada originally intended in her recipe.)

 

 

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Simple Summer Suppers | Somen

Cold Somen

During the summer, Naoto & I like to eat simple cold dishes that we can enjoy on the balcony. Last summer I shared two dishes, but hopefully this summer, I will be able to share more. We are looking forward to eating our own community garden grown vegetables.

This somen dish is an old favorite. I had it for the first time at Naoto’s host parents’ home in Hawaii. Auntie Judy, Naoto’s host mom, made it for lunch and I found it so refreshing and tasty. There are many variations of somen dishes, but this one is probably a slightly Americanized Hawaiian version of the Japanese dish. Oh, and I shared this recipe back in 2011 on my old blog, so Mom, it might look familiar.

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Simple Summer Somen

For the broth:

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup mirin

2 teaspoons sesame oil

Bring all ingredients to a boil, then allow to cool completely.

For the noodles:

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and drop in one bunch of somen noodles per person. (Somen typically comes in little paper-bundled bunches.) Boil for 2-3 minutes, or until noodles are soft. They cook very quickly! Drain, and rinse with cold water.

For the toppings:

Slice any or all of the following into thin strips, or “matchsticks”:

turkey (or ham) lunch meat

cucumber

cabbage

carrots

naruto (fishcake)

thinly sliced scallions

wasabi (I like the wasabi that comes in a tube.)

To assemble: 

Place a serving of noodles in a bowl. Add some broth (not too much, this isn’t a soup!) and the toppings of your choice. Squeeze on some wasabi and mix well. (Mix well enough that you don’t get accidentally eat a hunk of wasabi…although I kind of like the suspense of knowing my sinuses might be cleared out at least once in a bowl of somen!)

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We almost always just use turkey, cucumber, scallions and wasabi because those things are always on hand and readily available for somen cravings. I like mine with extra wasabi and I always eat mine out of my Hello Kitty bowl with Cinamaroll chopsticks…because it’s tradition.

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This week, I will be sharing some little aspects of our multi-cultural marriage in celebration of Loving Day on Wednesday. Somen is one of the first Japanese dishes that made it into our regular dinner routine back when we were dating. 

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simple summer suppers | wine & cheese

Naoto had two nights off last week–unheard of around here… We decided to break open a bottle of wine and enjoy some cheese & salami for dinner…it was a well-balanced meal because of the whole-wheat crackers and the grapes. We usually get our cheese from Trader Joe’s–which is obviously very convenient–because one of us is there almost seven days a week–but Naoto splurged at got the cheese and the salami from the Marion Street Cheese Market, right by his L stop in Oak Park. The Manchego was so delicious that I think Naoto let me eat the whole block myself…to be fair, I let him eat most of the salami…

Last week was another crazy one with work and mail call deadlines and we had plans all weekend (which is unusual for us)…and this week brings something every day…I don’t mind, but I’m looking forward to working on a few things–not things for Honor Flight or for work–things for me…ideas that have been bouncing around and projects that have gotten dusty from neglect. Luckily, Naoto has a few nights off again this week, so he can help me with the heavy lifting and furniture moving*, too.

*Yes, we will be moving the desk in the background of this photo…after having it sit in the middle of the doorway for two weeks!

Summer Fresh Salsa

summer fresh salsa ingredientsI’ve been on the obvious end-of-summer mission to use up our tomato crop. In the last week, I’ve eaten tomato sandwiches, BLTs, roasted tomato caprese salad, panzanella, plain ol’ caprese salad, and I’ve added tomatoes to every other meal I’ve made or eaten. And still…there are tomatoes.

Since we have so many Juliets (which are slightly larger than grape tomatoes and are not well-suited for sandwiches because of their tiny size) I decided to make salsa last weekend. I started with this recipe and made some tweaks to give it the freshest flavor possible.

Summer Fresh Salsa

24-30 Juliet tomatoes (or 6-7 Romas), chopped

2-3 Jalapeño, seeded and diced

1 red, yellow or orange  pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

handful cilantro, chopped

1-2 limes, juiced

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Sea salt, to tastesummer fresh salsaChop and stir the vegetables and herbs together. Add olive oil, salt and one lime. Taste and add more lime or salt as needed. (I usually use two limes because I like things citrusy.)

This salsa is very fresh, but if you prefer something more spicy, you can add chili peppers, chili powder some of the jalapeño seeds to heat things up. Try to make it ahead of time and chill it in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld. summer fresh salsaIsn’t it a pretty salsa? I love the colors and the crunch and the garlic and the citrus…and of course the tomatoes. Those perfect garden Juliet gems really make a good salsa. I’m so thankful for our bountiful harvest!

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Simple Suppers: Greek Orzo Salad

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This recipe is an old stand-by in the Adami Hasegawa home. I think it’s particularly delicious in the summer, but it sounded good last night so we made it. (Or, I should say Naoto made it…my contribution was scanning the pantry and creating the grocery list to eliminate the inevitable trip back to the grocery store!)

The recipe is inspired by this one from Giada De laurentis, but we added a cucumber and cheese (who wouldn’t?) and changed out the herbs because we both love parsley in the salad instead of the mint and basil. Basil tends to brown over time, so the parsley keeps the salad looking fresh for leftovers or for parties. No one wants a wilty brown salad at a party.

Greek Orzo Salad

4c chicken broth (you can also use vegetable broth or just plain water)

1.5c orzo

1 can garbanzo beans (15oz)

1.5c grape tomatoes, sliced in half (we used a few tiny yellow tomatoes, too)

1 small red onion, chopped finely

1 English cucumber, seeds removed, chopped

1c crumbled feta (or more)

3/4c chopped flat leaf parsley

In a covered saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the orzo and cook (partially covered) for about 7 minutes, until the orzo is al dente. Strain the orzo and transfer it into a large serving bowl and toss to cool. While the orzo is cooking and cooling, you can prepare the rest of the salad: strain and rinse the garbanzo beans, slice the tomatoes and chop the onion, cucumber and parsley.

Once the orzo is cooled, you can toss in the vegetables, beans, parsley and cheese and toss gently to mix. (Make sure the orzo is fully cooled, otherwise you will end up with one big chunk of feta melted together at the bottom…not that this ever happened to us!)

For the vinaigrette:

1/2c red wine vinegar

1/4c fresh lemon juice

2t honey

3/4t pepper

1c olive oil

In a blender, mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey and pepper. Then, drizzle in the olive oil while the blender is running and blend until emulsified. Give it a taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Add the vinaigrette to your salad and toss to coat. As the salad sits, it will soak up the vinaigrette (so if things look a little soupy at first, don’t worry!) This salad tastes best served at room temperature, making it great for parties. It’s also delicious chilled, leftover the next day.

A couple of notes:

Cooking the orzo in broth really does add a layer of flavor to this recipe, but if you’re on a budget or in a pinch (or a vegan), water works just fine here.

Vegan? Switch out the broth (water or vegetable broth), the feta and the honey.

An addition of a yellow pepper would be delicious in here, too, for a little more crunch and color!

 

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Plot #6: Brandywines are Back!

brandywines and yellow pear harvest, plot 6And the tomatoes are coming!! Last night in our latest check of our neglected community garden plot #6, we found a bounty of tomatoes! Three nice Brandywines, a couple more Juliets and a couple dozen Yellow Pears all made it safely into the harvesting bucket and ready for Hasegawa Happy Hour tomorrow night. I found a new salad recipe that I’d like to try with the yellow guys and I think panzanella will be the perfect plan for the Brandywines. Most of today will be spent searching for a cocktail recipe that will complement the tomato feast. plot 6, community gardenLook at our loofah! We have several of these little guys running along the mess of vines. Thanks to Mr. Brownthumb for helping us spot them and for hand modeling. Now we just need to hope that they don’t get eaten by mice before they are big enough to eat or dry out for bath time. (I’m still not sure I’m brave enough to eat one!)plot 6, cosmos, buttonsEven though my careless flower plantings took up way more space than I had anticipated, seeing those crazy orange and blue blooms in our plot makes me ridiculously happy. I promise there are plenty of tomatoes behind that mess of flowers!sunflower, forest park community gardenAnd speaking of flowers, I can’t resist sharing this way-taller-than-me sunflower in a neighboring community garden plot. I feel like I should do a community garden tour for you in the coming weeks. So many plots are overgrown and overflowing with amazing produce. It’s fun to be learning and sharing this hobby with so many others.

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I Heart Snack Sets & 1950s Entertaining

vintage snack setLast week while thrifting with my parents, I came across these snack sets. They were only $1 per set, so I bought all four. I justified this purchase (I already have another collection of four smaller snack sets) by noting that the plates on these are almost dinner-sized, so they would be more useful for luncheons and larger servings. The ladies at the thrift store encouraged me to buy all of the snack sets, but I resisted. (It was hard to resist.)

I have an obsession with snack sets. They make me think of well-dressed ladies getting together and playing cards or having a wedding shower, eating tiny sandwiches and homemade Jell-O salads and drinking tea or coffee from the tiny cups. I feel like now, when I get together with my friends, we are wearing yoga pants as we crack open a bottle of wine and some cheese and crackers and call it a day. I long for the days of more polished entertaining.

On Sunday night I had some friends over for paper crafting. We ate veggies and homemade dip, chips and salsa, cheese and crackers, roasted tomato caprese salad and other tasty treats off of the snack plates. We drank summer red wine out of the tiny cups. (There were frequent refills.)

I’m thinking of hosting a snack set luncheon when I return…maybe as a last hurrah for the summer? I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime…do you get all fancy when you entertain? I can’t be the only one who dreams of fancy parties with homemade salads and tiny glass cups, right?

 

 

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#30DOC Week 2

This week was a lot harder to manage because life got in the way…in a good way! We had some unexpected get-togethers with our neighbors last week, which is always a good thing in my book. I used my Sunday afternoon to catch up on a few days, but now I’m back and ready to stay on track this week. I have a few projects planned, so that should help with the “what should I make today?” dilemma. This is what I created during week 2:

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From the top: 6/8 etagmai practice, 6/9 somen, 6/10 handmade business cards, 6/11 sun tea, 6/12 Father’s Day mail art, 6/13 rope plant hanger (using this simple tutorial by Elise) 6/14 glittered bomb pop stationery, 6/15 glittered neon stationery (I’m clearly in a glitter mood! Both glittered stationery projects used the Sakura Quickie Glue Pen from my Little Red Toolbox.)

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