Archives for August 2011

New Sonoma Cookbook: Confetti Summer Salad

New Sonoma Confetti Salad

This recipe comes straight out of  The New Sonoma Cookbook. I love this cookbook. First off, its pretty. I know we’re not supposed to “judge a book by it’s cover,” but when it comes to cookbooks, that’s exactly what I do. I really love a cookbook with pictures of what I’m making, so I know what the end result will be! We really do eat with our eyes first, don’t we? Next, I love that it has a “Cook 1x, Eat 2x” feature where you can cook a little extra one night, then create a whole new meal with the leftovers another night. Who doesn’t need that? Want your own copy? You can reserve your copy by clicking on the book!

I picked the Confetti Summer Salad to feature today because it really showcases all the great produce that is in season right now. In fact, I had quite a few of these ingredients I could pick right out of my garden. Not a gardener? Everything should be readily available at either the Farmer’s Market or the grocers at the lowest prices you’ll find them all year. It’s a snap to make, and since you make it ahead, you’ll have it in the fridge ready to go when everything else you are cooking is ready!

Confetti Salad serves 8 as a side

4 medium ears fresh corn, or 2 C thawed frozen corn

4 baby zucchini, halved and thinly sliced

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2 scallions, sliced

1 medium yellow pepper, seeded and chopped

1 medium red pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 C bottled Italian salad dressing made with Olive Oil (I used Newman’s Own)

1/4 t cayenne pepper (optional)

1. If using fresh corn, cook ears of corn in a small amount of boiling water in a covered large saucepan for 4 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water to cool. when cool enough to handle, cut corn from cobs. (you need about 2 cups)

2. In a large bowl, combine fresh cooked corn or thawed corn, zucchini, tomatoes, scallions, bell peppers, salad dressing, and if using, cayenne pepper. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

Easy, right? And trust me when I say it’s delicious! I’ve found the New Sonoma Cookbook features real food that is really easy to prepare. In fact, I’ll be making the Morroccan Chicken for dinner tonight – it goes in the crockpot!

Disclosure: I was given a copy of the New Sonoma Cookbook to review. While the recipe comes from the cookbook, the opinions are 100% mine.

Linked to Mommy Club

Costco Price List


Next Stop, Costco!

Photo Credit

In my tips for buying in bulk, I talked about bulk bins and how they have the great advantage of letting you buy in specific quantities. In fact, you can bring in a measuring cup and get just the amount you need.

When you buy food in bulk at a warehouse store, you don’t have the ability to control your quantities. But you can save, and save A LOT!

Here are the prices on items I found at my local Costco. Print this out and use it to compare prices at your store or to compare couponing prices to see if an item is at a stockpile price! In fact, compare these prices to the Whole Foods Bulk Bins Price List I posted earlier this week. You can already see what buying in large quantities can save you!

Costco Price ListStay tuned for my warehouse buying tips. In the meantime, what prices did I miss? How do these prices compare with your warehouse store prices?

Whole Foods Bulk Bin Pricing

Whole Foods Bulk Bin DealsIn yesterday’s tips for buying food in bulk, I mentioned you can buy just about anything you might want, or need, in bulk. Whole Foods in particular is known for its large bulk bin section. But how do you know what a good deal is when you are buying in bulk? If bulk bin prices aren’t advertised in the weekly circulars, how do you know if the price you are paying at one store isn’t a whole lot more than at another?

In light of this, I thought it would be helpful to put together a Whole Foods Bulk Bin Price list for everyone. I have pricing on those items that are staples that I felt are the key ingredients to getting an actual meal on the table. Yes, that means I skipped some of the yummy stuff like cookies, granola and – my favorite – popcorn. However, if you buy those items regularly, PLEASE leave a price in the comments! And I’ll update the list for everyone every few months!

REMEMBER: Whole Foods prices and deals vary greatly from store to store. This list is intended as a guide and to help you recognize a stockpile price!

Make sure to print this out and take it with you in your coupon binder! What other prices would be helpful for you to have?

Meatless Monday: Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole

Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole

It’s that time of year! Zucchini recipes are popping up all over the place! Here’s my contribution to the zucchini recipe glut in the form of a Meatless Monday meal suggestion. And let me tell you a little something about this recipe. I made it while my family was back to school shopping. I had just snapped a picture when they came in the door and asked, “What smells soooo good?” Within 5 minutes, it had disappeared. This from a family that claims they don’t like eggplant!

Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole serves 4

1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch slices

2 zucchini, sliced into 1/2 inch slices

1 t olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 large cloves garlic

1 1/2 C cottage cheese

1 T oregano

1/2 C shredded mozzarella

1/2 C grated Parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 350. Lay eggplant and zucchini in a single layer on 2 baking sheets lined with silpat or wax paper. Bake for 30 minutes.

Eggplant and Zucchini

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook an additional minute. Turn heat off, and stir in cottage cheese and oregano.

3. In a 9 X 9 baking dish, line the bottom with cooked eggplant slices. Cover with half of the cottage cheese mixture. Layer zucchini slices on top.

Layers of Zucchini

4. Finish the casserole by layering remaining cottage cheese mixture over the zucchini and topping with remaining eggplant slices.

5. Sprinkle grated cheeses over the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown. Serve immediately!

Happy Meatless Monday! Are you looking for new ways to eat your garden’s zucchini?

linked to Tasty Tuesday and Eat at Home

Tips for Buying Food in Bulk

Miniature ShopperPhoto Credit: Jackson Latka

Whether you shop at the bulk bins in your natural foods store or buy in bulk from one of the big warehouse clubs, you’ll find buying in bulk not only saves you money but helps at mealtime by having key ingredients always on hand.

There is no shortage of items that now come in bulk. You can buy your everyday staples such as rice, beans, oil, and flour, and you can bulk buy items such as paper products and even cookies!

These tips are ways you can save money while buying your food in bulk:

1. You can buy the exact quantity you need. If you are buying an ingredient for a particular recipe, you can buy from the bulk bins in just the quantity you need. Feel free to bring in a measuring cup to get that exact amount.

2. You can try new products. The bulk bins are full of rices, grains and beans that you may never have had the opportunity to try. The bulk bins allow you to buy enough to experiment and try them without a large investment.

3. You can exercise your own portion control. By buying your goods in bulk, you can then bring them home and repackage them into your own portion controlled quantities. When you buy those “100 calorie packs” from the store, you are often paying a premium for all that packaging! PLUS, as an advocate of Going Green, I often buy food in bulk because it eliminates the need for excess packaging and waste.

4. You can stockpile in a big way! Stockpiling goods when they are at their lowest costs is a great money saver. Make sure you are storing your dry goods in airtight containers to maintain freshness. Washing and using your old peanut butter, jelly or pasta sauce jars is a great way to do this. Also, you can put your flours and rices in the freezer to keep pests out. When you store bulk items like beans properly, they can last for years!

5. You can have meals ready quickly by dividing bulk meat purchases into family size portions before freezing. Being able to pull out just the right amount of meat for a family meal is a real time saver when it comes to meal prep. Don’t forget, you can brown ground meat or turkey prior to freezing making mealtime prep a snap.

One word of bulk buying caution! Use bulk goods before the expiration date. The beauty of bulk buying is some items, such as toilet paper, can last years if stored properly. However, if you are buying items such as beef in bulk quantities, have a plan to use it within 6 months to optimize freshness.

What do you buy in bulk?

Meatless Monday: Sweet Corn Chowder

Sweet Corn Chowder

I love this recipe because it uses two of my favorite seasonal foods: sweet corn and roasted hatch chiles. I remember when I first moved to Jordan and bought some fresh corn from the produce market. I’m used to Colorado’s sweet Olathe corn. The corn in Jordan was not sweet. In fact, it had to be pig feed – it was that bad. So now with sweet corn in season, I’m filling up on it in as many ways as possible.

If you don’t live somewhere that has freshly roasted hatch chiles like we do here in Colorado, you can substitute a small can of chopped green chiles, and you’ll still get great flavor! If you do live somewhere in the Southwest and can get your hands on some – be sure to get it! It takes this recipe up to “impossibly delicious” status!

Sweet Corn Chowder serves 4

1 1/2 T butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 shallots, peeled and diced

1/4 C roasted hatch chiles, diced

1 C chicken stock

Kernels from 4 ears of corn

1 1/2 C heavy cream

chopped cilantro – optional

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the garlic and shallots and saute until tender. Stir in the chiles and cook for an additional minute.

2. Add the stock and corn to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Puree the mixture in the blender. Return to pan. Season with salt and add the cream. Heat through before serving. Serve hot with cilantro.

This also makes an excellent starter to a fried chicken meal if you don’t participate in Meatless Monday!

Linked to Tasty Tuesday

Eat Food in Season: August

photo credit

What food is in season in August? My favorite food is in season in August! There isn’t one thing on this list that I don’t just love! In fact, I have 2 boxes of peaches coming in a few weeks! Straight from Colorado’s western slopes! There aren’t enough exclamation points in this world to convey how excited I am!

Isn’t it a great time of year to just eat?

Just a word of caution. Many of these are on the dirty dozen list. Try to buy these organically grown or from a farmer you know whose farming practices you trust.

Here is what you should be finding at your local farmer’s market or grocers and how to store it so it stays fresh until you’re ready to serve it.

Corn: The fresher you get it, the better it tastes, so buy from a local farmer! Look for ears that are tightly wrapped in the husk – which should be green not brown. Pull back to look at the kernels. The kernels should be plump and come all the way to the tip. Store corn in its husk in the refrigerator, remembering that each day it loses a little sweetness, so eat it sooner rather than later!

Cucumbers: Look for firm, green cucumbers. If you try to avoid the seeds, look for skinnier cucumbers as they will have less. Cucumbers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Green Beans: Green beans should be firm and snap when you bend them in half. Store wrapped loosely in plastic in the fridge. Green beans do not store well and should be used soon after purchasing.

Plums:  Ripe fruit is soft to the touch and should be eaten as soon after purchase as possible! Underripe fruit is hard and needs to be placed in a brown paper bag and left out at room temperature to ripen. Ripe fruit needs to go in the fridge, which will help slow the ripening process.

Pears: Pears are tricky. They can quickly turn from hard and underripe to mushy. Buy pears that are slightly firm and allow to ripen at room temperature over a few days. To test for ripeness, press gently near the stem. When it yields to light pressure, you know it is ready.

Peaches: Peaches are another fruit that will ripen when left in a paper bag at room temperature. Look for peaches without any brown spots.

Raspberries:  The fall bearing canes should be starting to fruit this time of year. All berries when purchased should be brightly colored and fragrant. Avoid any signs of mushy berries. Eat immediately after purchase.

Red Grapes: Just in time for lunchboxes, red grapes are showing up at the markets and are reasonably priced. I happen to be of the opinion that you should taste one before purchasing to really know if they are ripe. If you don’t buy these organically grown, make sure to wash them well as pesticides are used heavily on grapes.